I’M positive we can provide fans with a competitive team which will provide good entertainment this year. Last year is history. We went through tough times but we had to and the club survived.
We’re back in the Elite League alongside three other Scottish teams. That’s fantastic news for ice hockey. Having Fife Flyers in the league for the first time is great for us. I played for Murrayfield Racers when games against Fife used to pack the 4000- capacity Riversdale rink.
I’d love to see that again but, realistically, we desperately want to build the rivalry back between the clubs. The atmosphere in the past was electric and this is something that we’re delighted to work on.
I believe Edinburgh and Fife games will produce our biggest crowds next season and we’re definitely looking forward to having Fife in the league. They will certainly be competitive and with Braehead Clan and Dundee CCS Stars recruiting well it should be really competitive between the Scottish clubs.
We’re steadily building a team on and off the ice. Off-ice we’ve got Raymond Lumsden with us again. Raymond works in television and satellite installation and he has been a good supporter of the club. He’s made some altruistic donations and also been involved in sponsorship and we believe he can help us build a solid base for the future.
Matthew Tailford is new to ice hockey. He is a sound guy who is good on logistics and sourcing things and he will help us moving forward.
Keith Butland is based in the London area. He works in website management and, before moving south, he was a long-time fan of the club. He’s been south of the border for seven or eight years now but is keen to help out.
Sponsorship is key for us. It is a difficult environment out there but it is something we are working on and it is a valuable source of income for the club. We are trying to grow that side of the business and the return of Sky TV with their weekly highlights package will helps us attract sponsors.
Another key role off the ice is taken by Jock Hay. He’ll be working behind the bench and will be assistant coach. He has an immense amount of experience and is a great servant to this club.
Last year was really tough for us all but he is determined to help make us a really competitive outfit this season. It is more than likely that we’ll be bringing in an Eastern European player/coach to complement our current recruitment policy. We’ll be focusing on Eastern European players this time as I would argue that they have been some of our best foreign imports.
I’ll name names. Krajicek, Droppa, are two and, of course, up-front has been Martin Cingel. We’re looking to build a solid, competitive team that provides value for money.
We’re also bringing in quality. Look at player-coach Richard Hartmann. He’s got over 550 games in the Slovakian league under his belt. That’s one of the best leagues in Europe.
Our season opens on Sunday when we entertain Nottingham Panthers. They, along with Belfast and possibly Coventry, should be among the front-runners for the title this season. Never count out Sheffield, however.
We had hoped to fix up a challenge match pre-season but that fell through when the Davis Cup was scheduled for Braehead and Clan’s season was put back two weeks. We lost that opportunity and Fife had a double-header arranged with Dundee so they were not available and other English teams didn’t want to travel a distance for a one-off game.
That’s a disappointment but we remain optimistic of making an impact. We don’t want to be bottom of the league again and we want to be competitive and to challenge for the play-offs.
My message to the fans is simple. Get behind this team. We’ll provide entertainment and be competitive. The best way forward is if the people of Edinburgh get behind us.
We have realistic aspirations and we’re creating a team we can afford. We’re allowed ten imports and it is possible we will have ten imports this time but that may not happen straight away. Much depends on who is available on the market in the next few weeks.
More announcements will be made shortly and they will include Great Britain-based players. Bari McKenzie is back with us and others will be confirmed but we would ask fans to get behind us by buying season tickets and supporting this club. Together we can make a real impact.
As told to Nigel Duncan