Edinburgh Capitals have announced that city ice hockey legend Tony Hand will have his No.9 jersey retired by the club.
The move means no Caps player will be able to wear the number again.
Hand, who will be guest of honour in a special ceremony at Murrayfield Ice Rink next month, hung up his skates last season aged 47 after enjoying a remarkable 34-year playing career. Hand, awarded an MBE for his services to the sport, was the first British-trained player to be drafted into the National Hockey League by Canadian side Edmonton Oilers in 1987.
Making his debut aged only 13, Hand led Murrayfied Racers to numerous championships and trophies in a glory laden 14 years, signing off in 1995, with a staggering 241 points for the season – amassed in just 50 games – before joining Sheffield Steelers.
Hand returned to his home rink as player/coach of the Edinburgh Capitals in 2002, and then again for the same role in 2005, and all in all has played for seven British clubs – including Edinburgh’s current Gardiner conference rivals Dundee Stars – in a career the like of which is unlikely to be seen again in this country.
Capitals co-owner Scott Neil said: “With Tony retiring from the playing side of the game this year, it was only right that the club took the opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the career of the best home-bred British player to ever play the game.
“The ceremony will be held prior to the Capitals’ Elite League game against the Dundee Stars on the November 29.”
Hand, who has spent the last nine seasons playing and coaching at Manchester Phoenix, said: “I am delighted to receive this great honour. I learned my hockey in Edinburgh and I have many proud and fond memories of playing and coaching at Murrayfield. I am looking forward to the evening and to meeting some of the fans, players and management who have helped and supported me throughout my career.”
Meanwhile, reflecting on Sunday’s 5-4 Elite League home win over Manchester Storm, Capitals forward Taylor Dickin revealed the three points gained by the club over the course of two weekend games against their Conference rivals was set as the minimum required ahead of what is sure to be a tough game at Sheffield Steelers tomorrow.
Dickin said: “It was a huge win, especially after losing in a shoot-out the night before. We knew last weekend was one where we needed to pick up points. At least three, which we got so we’re satisfied. But we have a real big game against Sheffield tomorrow and we have to re-group quickly.
Dickin, an under-the-radar summer signing for the Caps straight out of Canadian college hockey, scored two and made two in Sunday’s win, and was also on the scoresheet in Saturday’s 3-2 loss in Manchester. He believed Ryan Hayes’ converted penalty shot, won with the score tied at 3-3 after Dickin was hauled down in front of goal, was a key moment in the game.
“We were up 3-1 and kind of squandered that lead, but we didn’t panic because we knew if we got the next one and get ourselves back ahead going into the third period we’d be in good shape. We played as a unit out there. Everyone was in their positions and worked hard, that’s what we need every night in order to win.
“I feel my confidence growing with every game. I’m getting used to the league, the speed, and how it’s played over here. I’m enjoying it so far.”