TODD Dutiaume will be Fife Flyers’ player-coach next season.
The long-serving Canadian was formally confirmed in the key post on Tuesday night - and will now begin to build a new-look team for the 2011-12 campaign against the biggest clubs in the country.
He has aready sounded out a number of his local skaters to get them prepared for the step-up to top flight hockey, and started the process of finding the right imports to fill key berths on the roster.
Dutiaume’s name was the only one in the frame, and Flyers believe he has earned the chance to step up to the Elite League after steering the club to a near total clean-sweep of the silverware in the NPL and Scottish leagues.
A key player at the club since signing from Telford Tigers in 1998 he previously iced with Swindon Ice Lords after moving from North America where he played in the WHL with Brandon Wheat Kings and Moose Jaw Warriors.
Dutiaume (38) will continue to skate as well, but there are plans in hand to appoint a bench coach - similar to the arrangement which saw Chic Cottrell work closely with Mark Morrison as Flyers powered to a Grand Slam and British championship titles in the BNL.
He said: ‘‘You need that stability and structure on the bench, and it’s a position I’m going to take my time over so I get someone who thinks along similar lines and also makes the calls when required.
‘‘In this league you definitely need that support.’’
Dutiaume is also looking to his local skaters to make their mark on top flight hockey - and it’s a challenge they are relishing.
‘‘We’ve been trying to prep them for this because it is a jump,’’ he said. ‘‘They are excited about it and they want to learn and that is fantastic.
‘‘You never know until someone steps on to the ice how they will perform at a higher level, but I’m hoping a few of the guys surprise me - they will certainly be up for the challenge.’’
That home-grown contingent will almost certainly include team captain Jamie Wilson after he was released by Dundee Stars.
The forward signed for the Taysiders a couple of weeks ago but he was not formally announced - the Press was aware of the move but agreed to put the news on hold while he sorted out his work arrangements.
With Flyers now playing Elite League hockey it would appear Wilson will return to the Rosslyn Street rink,
In terms of new import signings, Dutiaume admits he has no shortage of applicants - but he wants the right players in his dressing-room.
‘‘Fife still carries a very good name among hockey players - it’s a good place to play and you are well treated. That will work in our favour,’’ he said.
‘‘We want guys who fit into our team and dressing-room, who understand the style we play and are maybe willing to change their game.
‘‘We’ve been inundated with CVs but there is still not substitute for speaking to guys you know whose views you trust.’’
Dutiaume also admits he’s delighted to see a buzz returning to the sport - and the town.
‘‘It’s been quiet for a while,’’ he admitted, ‘‘but there has been a huge buzz since we announced we were going Elite.
‘‘Lot of people have been stopping me and asking questions, and talking hockey - if that is am indication of the excitement then things are looking good.
‘‘We’ve had a busy spring already and done a fair bit of work, and now things are starting to motor.’’
Announcing Dutiaume’s appointment, a club spokesman paid tribute to his commitment in recent seasons.
He said: ‘‘After working over the last five years to keep the club going and winning almoist everything in sight Todd deserves the opportunity to lead the team again next season.’’
With season tickets on sale, fans are now awaiting news of the fixcture list - and the all-important first night of the season.
A provisional schedule is with all the clubs to make adjustments, but one, Cardiff Devils, appears to have jumped the gun, and published its entire list online.
It indicates the Welsh side will return to Fife Ice Arena on October 8 and again on January 14 as part of a Scottish triple header with Dundee and Edinburgh.