AS one of the most vocal players in the Fife Flyers dressing room, Casey Haines is rarely lost for words.
But the American playmaker admits he was left speechless when asked to be captain of the oldest ice hockey club in Britain.
Haines has made a big impression, both on and off the ice, since joining the Kirkcaldy club, so much so that he emerged as player-coach Todd Dutiuame’s number one candidate for the position.
The 26-year-old was informed of his new role ahead of his man of the match performance in the win over Braehead Clan on Saturday.
“It’s really cool,” Haines told the Press. “Coming in from the States I obviously didn’t expect it, so I was a bit lost for words.
“There’s a bunch of leaders in there. Caister, Keller and Jason Pitton are all wearing A’s, but any one of them could be a captain.
“We still have Todd and Danny on the ice as coaches so their voice is heard too.
“I’ve been an assistant or captain on my teams all the way up from college – maybe it’s due to my outspokenness!
“But Todd said he trusted me and it’s a real honour.”
Dutiaume had earmarked Haines as a possible captain even before the former Reading Royals ace made his move from the States.
“His character, work ethic and hockey ability were praised by everyone I spoke to,” Dutiaume said. “I was very surprised that a guy of his calibre came up, but we had lots of conversations over the summer and we got on very well.
“When you see him working hard, shooting pucks and scoring goals, I think he’ll become a fans favourite very quickly – if he isn’t already.
“His personality is infectious. Not only does he make the people around him better, he makes our hockey club better as a whole.
“There was a number of candidates for the position - we could have made a couple of selections and still been spot on but Casey just fit that bill.
“Wearing that letter on his shirt, in his first season in Europe at a club as old as Flyers, is something he’ll take to heart.
“He always takes pride in what he does and that’s the kind of guy we want in a Flyers uniform.”
Haines is the Elite League’s second top points scorer after the opening two weekends, having amassed two goals and five assists so far.
That has helped Flyers to three wins from four games, but Haines is still upset about the game that got away.
“We’d like to have the Coventry one back,” he said. “We think we could have won that game but we just came out flat in the first.
“We out-played them in the next two periods, but got ourselves into penalty trouble.
“It was the same on Sunday night in Edinburgh. We took nine penalties – that’s almost a whole period of killing powerplays.
“We’re making a tonne of mistakes, but still coming out with victories, which is nice. As the year goes on we’ll work on things and hopefuly get better.
“We’re confident in the room that we have the guys to go far.”
As well as naming Haines as captain, Flyers have also revealed their alternate captains, with Jason Pitton taking on the role, as well as Jeff Caister and Derek Keller alternating between home and away games.
>> Stepping up and standing up for the team ... read the FFP’s latest online ice hockey blog exclusively at http://www.fifetoday.co.uk/sport/ice-hockey/stepping-up-and-standing-up-for-the-team-1-2529713