Flyers close to first signings as Paquet is on the road to Rouen

Phil Paquet has left Fife Flyers (Pic: Steve Gunn)
Phil Paquet has left Fife Flyers (Pic: Steve Gunn)

Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume is remaining upbeat despite losing a third key player from last season’s roster.

Defenceman Phil Paquet has turned down the chance to return to Fife next season to sign for French club, Rouen.

His departure follows on from the loss of netminder Shane Owen, who has moved to Sweden, and Ryan Dingle, who joined EIHL rivals Coventry Blaze.

Dutiaume insists, however, that his summer recruitment drive is going well, and that he is closing in on his first spate of signings.

“We’re in talks with a number of players right now and things are progressing well,” he said.

“We’d be hopeful of getting not just one, but three or four over the line in the coming days.

“We don’t want to panic sign and get a player just for the sake of it.

“I know fans are keen for signings, but it’s important we get the right people, and it may take us into summer.

“But we will be transparent. We won’t hold back. As soon as we have a signing confirmed, we’ll get it out.”

On the departure of Paquet, the coach conceded that Fife had lost a player they were keen to retain.

“We discussed his options and it was all very amicable,” Dutiaume said.

“I have so much respect for what he did for this club over the last few seasons and his performances on the ice speak volumes.

“His leaving possibly had something to do with the delays over our league status, but he never made it a secret that he wanted to play in France before he retired.

“There will always be interest in a player like Phil – he plays with an edge, has size, and is a consummate pro.

“Phil and I worked on good terms, and we parted on good terms, and I’m sure he’ll be a great ambassador for the club any time we decide to bring someone in that Phil crossed paths with.”

Meanwhile, assistant coach Jeff Hutchins is looking for the club to improve on last season’s campaign.

“Todd and I have had lengthy meetings and dissected last season both on and off the ice performance,” he said. “Without going in to too much detail we have identified a number of areas that we intend to improve.”

Hutchins also confirmed that he will continue in his ‘Director of Player Development’ role.

“As I have said before, the player development role is more about working with the current team members both collectively and individually,” he said.

“This past year I watched a lot of video of the players and I looked for things in their game that I could help them improve on, by making subtle changes that would ultimately help the team performance.

“There is an element of junior development involved as well. Steven Lynch and I have developed a process to identify the talent coming through and scheduling training sessions for those identified to train up with us.

“Chad Smith, Reece Cochrane and Andrew Little are examples of that process in motion. Chad is going to be with us this year and will continue to work with him and help him adjust to being a full time pro.

“Also I think it important to note that Chris Wands benefited a lot this year from video and I really challenged him to be better and take minutes off other guys, I think he did a great job rising to the challenge.”