Time for Fife Flyers to kick-start buzz of summer signings

Fife Flyers fans flags rinkside for the play-off game v Braehead Clan
Fife Flyers fans flags rinkside for the play-off game v Braehead Clan

The summer recess is a time for signings and speculation as far as ice hockey fans are concerned.

As far as Fife Flyers fans are concerned, time is dragging very slowly as the club seems to have disappeared off the radar.

Across the EIHL there have been signings galore with most teams now announcing the bulk of their rosters for 2016-17. Fife were up and running with three early announcements which created a real buzz, and an expectation of more to follow.

But then ... well, nothing.

The last signing, Phil Paquet, was on May 11. It’s now mid June.

In a world of 24/7 communication that’s a mighty long silence.

So, is there any need to panic? Probably not - with a ‘but’ stuck on the end of it.

It’s a gimme that the team will hit the ice come September. It’ll have new faces and fans’ favourites from last season, a smart new strip, the rink will be all shiny and ready to roll, and before we know it we’ll be hollering down the neck of Ryan Finnerty and his Braehead team.

I can see club director Tom Muir with a wry smile as if to wonder what all the froth was about back in mid-June.

And he’ll be right - he usually is - BUT right now the chat on social media, web forums and among fans you meet down town contains one common perception; one of Fife Flyers lagging behind.

Not just a little bit behind, but a mighty long way back.

When long-standing fans - folk who really know their hockey - starting asking ‘’should we be concerned’’ then yes, we should be. Well, the club should. Perception is everything.

It’s always been Flyers policy to drip feed player signing news across the summer - regular announcements to top up interest levels and build to the start of the new season.

There is still time to do just that, but a month of silence is strange - certainly when measured against the activity of other clubs.

As a snapshot, today alone I saw tweets from Nottingham showing staff a painting the lines on the ice pad, Sheffield’s new assistant coach pictured on his first day at work, Edinburgh inviting fans to follow their latest signing on social media; while Coventry had a former player commenting on the arrival of Danny Stewart. Manchester’s social media activity, meanwhile, is just top dollar.

Fife fans want of share of that buzz that news of a new arrival brings - but they want it about their team. They want to see the team building player by player. They want to pour over the stats, check out Youtube clips of the guys in action and join the summer chatter about the season ahead.

They may be fiercely critical at times, but Fife fans share one common desire - to see the team be the very best it can be.

Keeping the communication lines open, keeping the updates coming - big or small, on-ice or off-ice - mean not only will the four-month summer recess fly faster than sudden death over-time, but everyone will feel engaged. They’ll feel very much part of THEIR club. And it is ‘their’ club ... one underpinned by an ultra-strong bond between team and supporters.

Signing news done properly really can rack up the anticipation and excitement across the summer. It can convert casual fans into season ticket holders, and perhaps even tempt a few with businesses to consider a sponsorship package. Get the news out, create a spark of excitement.

I have no doubt that more than three players are signed and sealed, including some new faces, but the green light has yet to be given to any announcements. There may be good reasons for that - from the outside looking in, I’m struggling to think of one - but after a month of radar silence, the club needs to kickstart the buzz it created around its initial announcements.

It’s often claimed there’s no difference good PR and bad PR.

There is - and that’s no PR.