DANNY Stewart has revealed that Fife Flyers’ commitment to becoming a more competitive Elite League club helped seal his return.
Stewart (pictured) has rejoined Flyers for a second season, where he will once again combine his playing duties with the role of the team’s assistant-coach.
The 33-year-old endured a difficult time in Kirkcaldy last season, and often played through painful injuries to help make up for a lack of import numbers.
However, after being given assurances from club owners and coach Todd Dutiaume that there will be no repeat of mistakes made last season, Stewart was happy to commit for a second year at Fife Ice Arena.
“There was a bit of uncertainty at the end of last season over which direction Dutes wanted to go in, but he called me in before I flew home and expressed his desire to return to Fife as player-coach,” Stewart told the Press.
“He asked me to come back as his assistant, but I had my concerns over the way things had gone last year. I didn’t want to go into another season under-prepared.
“But when I saw the passion that both Dutes and the club management had to put a competitive team on the ice next year it became an easy decision for me.
“Having spent a year in Fife I also know the potential that exists. The support we have and the passion of the management can drive this club forward.
“I’m delighted to be coming back and looking forward to having another go at taking this team further up the league and into the higher reaches of British hockey.”
Stewart revealed that he turned down offers elsewhere to continue his career in Fife.
“I was approached by a couple of teams who wanted me to be their coach after I had verbally committed to Flyers,” he said.
“I don’t want to say who the clubs were because they have since appointed a coach.
“I didn’t just turn them down because I’d already committed to Fife, I just feel Fife is a good fit, and there’s a lot of stability that comes with the organisation.”
Stewart is currently in Canada but he is in daily contact with Dutiaume as the coaching duo bid to attract fresh talent to Fife.
“We’re out there searching for players and trying to find some quality guys that will allow us to put together a competitive team,” Stewart said.
“I know how special Fife can be, but after last season the difficult job is convincing other players, especially those that are new to the UK, that the potential is there.
“The bottom team in the UK tends to have a reputation for off-ice issues but in Fife’s case they just had a difficult first season in a new league.
“There’s a lot of stability in Fife and it’s just a case of convincing players over here that they’d be coming to a great hockey town.”