Ice hockey legend Derek Reilly believes Edinburgh Capitals player-coach Richard Hartmann is the best man to rebuild the team despite a desperately disappointing current campaign.
The former GB internationalist, has, however, called for the Slovakian to receive more support from within the club, including a move behind the bench, at least in part, for captain Martin Cingel.
Reilly, who played for Edinburgh’s hugely-successful Murrayfield Racers between 1965 and 1984, was speaking ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Fife Flyers at Murrayfield, where Caps plan to pay homage to the city’s rich ice hockey history. The club is hosting a Legacy Night to which around 40 former Capitals and Racers players are expected to attend.
“After a good season last year I think it was expected we would just carry on,” said Reilly. “But other teams have got better and we’ve gone the other way, and taken a backwards step. Some of the players who last year really bust a gut for us haven’t been as good this season. We’ve had some good wins, but just never really got going. The players have not shown the same hunger to succeed and that’s disappointed me.
“I do feel for the players but there needs to be something of a clearout. They have to sit down and really look at what they have in terms of imports and make some changes.
“Scotty (club co-owner Scott Neil) is going to have to make some difficult decisions this summer.
“I really like Richard Hartmann as player-coach. He takes things very seriously and has the club at heart, but he has to carry a lot on his shoulders and in my opinion needs more support from within the organisation. Because they’re out on the ice, player-coaches can’t always see what’s going on and need a strong backroom staff who know what to expect from your players, and are able to get that message across.
“I don’t know what Martin [Cingel]’s plans are for next year but I would like to see him come back and help from behind the bench, that’s what I did after I retired and I absolutely loved it. I think he has the potential to team up really well with Richard. Martin wouldn’t be afraid to shout at the players and get them really fired up for games and the fact that he’s been there and done it means he would have the full respect of the team.
“The two of them would be a good combination and it’s something I’d like to see.”
Reilly, who spent two seasons as general manager of Murrayfield Racers, before the club were forced to change their name to Edinburgh Racers in 1995, can also relate to the difficult job faced by Neil and co-owner Mathew Tailford in putting together a winning team.
He said. “I know more than anybody how difficult a job Scott Neil has in Edinburgh. I was joint-owner of the Racers and we put a cracking team out on the ice and won the Benson & Hedges Cup, but for whatever reason we didn’t get the support we expected and couldn’t balance the books. In the end the whole thing just fell apart and it was terrible.
“They’re managing to keep the books balanced and that’s the most important thing, but home matches are where you generate your money and Scott needs to put a team on the ice that can win more games at Murrayfield, which more than anything will get fans coming back through the door.”