Recently-appointed Edinburgh Capitals player-coach Michal Dobron is looking for his love affair with the Murrayfield club to continue when he returns in August ahead of the new ice hockey season.
Dobron, a former Czech Republic internationalist, takes the reins from the the now-retired Riley Emmerson.
The 36-year-old approached the club about the vacant position and it didn’t take long for the defenceman to convince club co-owner Scott Neil he was the right man for the job.
The Murrayfield faithful seem delighted with the new appointment, with many reaching out on social media to welcome the smooth-skating defenceman back to the city.
Dobron, speaking from his home in Prague, said: “When I last played in Edinburgh, I loved everything about Murrayfield. I loved the fans, the atmosphere at games, and I want to help make a club that is in my heart get better.
“I’m excited reading the fans’ reaction to the news. All their messages have made me feel very happy.”
Dobron, who was a key part of the team when perennial strugglers Edinburgh last made a play-off appearance three years ago, is under no illusions of the difficulty in building and keeping together a squad that remains competitive over an eight-month season.
“My plan for the season is a simple one,” said Dobron. “We will play good hockey, but good hockey that is effective. We must be solid defensively and play a hard game. I want players who will work well with the way I want to play. We need good skaters and team players who will work hard in every game. This will help us achieve the best results possible throughout an entire season.”
With Dobron’s appointment earlier this month, this season’s squad is beginning to take shape, despite this week losing forward Callum Boyd to Braehead Clan.
Fife-born forward Sean Beattie will be returning for his fifth season with the club, and teenage defensive duo Tyler Plews and Jay King have signed new multi-year deals.
Dobron has made his first import signings of the summer bringing in promising Canadian college stars Mason Wilgosh and Taylor MacDougall. Both have reputations as hard working, two-way players, and would appear to fit perfectly with the big Czech’s plans for the club.
Dobron, who has made over 600 appearances in the Czech Elite League – picking up eight international caps along the way – last played competitively in the 2014-15 season when he iced for Morzine in the French top-flight. Over the last 12 months, he has turned his attention to coaching full-time with Czech junior team, HC Letci Letnany, where, after initially being recruited as a defensive specialist, quickly graduated to the position of head coach.
Dobron is also close to completing an intensive six-month coaching course which will see him obtain the second-highest level of ice hockey coaching licence in the Czech Republic.
Despite the break from competitive action, Dobron, who is also a personal trainer and a qualified physio, believes the transition to returning to playing duties will be an easy one.
He said: “Even though I wasn’t playing last year, I was on the ice every day and I prepared like a professional. The day I don’t feel ready to play will be the day I don’t sign a contract with the Edinburgh Capitals. I’m just so excited to be back.”