FIFE Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume has vowed that the club will bounce back from the shock loss of assistant player-coach Matt Siddall.
The Kirkcaldy club was left stunned last Friday when it emerged that Siddall had left the country to sign for Croatian outfit Medvescak Zagreb – without informing Fife directors.
Dutiaume admitted that the sudden departure of a key first line forward has left the team with a big hole to fill, but he stressed that the team can, and will, recover.
“There’s never been a player who is bigger than this team,” he told SportsPress.
“Over the years you can think of so many good players that we’ve lost but the team keeps charging on.
“It’s tough at this stage of the season to get that momentum back but we will, and the guys here are committed to the cause.”
Siddall’s failure to honour his contract at Fife left Dutiaume to question the role played by the player’s agent.
“This has never happened in the 14 years I’ve been here,” he said.
“In this day and age, it seems like agents can be chancing their luck, contacting guys through Facebook and stuff like that, whereas before these channels weren’t there.
“It’s disappointing that we’ve got a guy under contract and other teams start approaching.
“If a guy signs a contract you think other teams would leave him alone, but it’s a big positive that we came out and won the first game without him.
“It really helped the confidence of this club, although it would have helped even more if we could have built on that.”
Siddall’s departure means that, for the meantime, players like Jamie Wilson and Stephen Gunn are thriving on more ice time, with Wilson picking up a man of the match award in the 4-1 defeat against Edinburgh on Monday.
“Sidds was eating up a lot of ice, and when he was on his game he was on it, but when he was off, he was off,” Dutiaume said.
“Now I need to put some of our local guys out there much more, and they’re proving they can be out there and do a job.
“Guys like Wilson and Gunn are starting to look like players out there, whereas in the first quarter of the season they were pretty non-existant. Now they are coming into their own.
“Toms Hartmanis is also out there skating a bit more and teams can’t get the puck off him - he’s looking awful good.”
Now the attention turns to bringing in a top line forward as a replacement for Siddall, and Dutiaume has drawn up a shortlist of names gleaned from his contacts in North America.
“You saw how long it took to get Tim Maxwell in – and we don’t want it to take that long,” he said.
“We need another guy in fast and we’ve identified some targets.
‘‘Now it’s a case of talking to agents, seeing if we can meet salary requirements, and sort out work permit details.
“The good thing is work permits can happen quicker after the new year as you can apply for a short-term one, so it could only take a couple of days once we identify the guy we want.
“Players like Matt Siddall don’t come around every day, but if we get someone who is keen and ready to go, it will bring fresh life and new legs to the team and make a big difference.
“Hopefully we bring in an apt replacement who will help us kick on towards the play-offs.”