Unfinished business for Flyers’ player-boss

KIRKCALDY;'Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON

KIRKCALDY;'Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON

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TODD Dutiaume will remain player-coach of Fife Flyers next season.

The Elite League club has confirmed that he will return for his eighth season as head coach – and his 14th as a player.

Dutiaume has spent recent weeks considering his future following the sudden death of his wife, Kelly, in February.

But after careful consideration the long-serving Canadian has committed himself to the Flyers for another year.

“An incredible amount of thinking has gone into this decision,” he told the Press.

Unfinished

“I’ve been involved in hockey a long time, and had I walked away after last season, I would have felt like I had unfinished business out on the ice.

“It’s something I’ve been doing all my life, so it will be a good route back into the real world for me.

“Hopefully staying involved will have a therapeutic effect on me, but at the same time I still think I have a lot to give.

“Some of my best friends play for the team, and Fife Flyers is an organisation on the up.

“I’ve had positive discussions with the directors about the direction they want the team to go in.

“There are still a lot of things to work out but I’m very excited about another season with the organisation. Now it’s time to get things moving along.”

Dutiaume turns 39 tomorrow (Friday), making him one of the oldest players in the EIHL, but he still believes he has plenty to contribute on the ice.

“As coach my job is to assess players – and that includes myself,” he said.

“My points production was not what I wanted it to be last season.

“At the start I found myself three or four steps behind, but that was inevitable having played at a lower level for five years.

“My speed, skating and strength were all feeling better towards the end of the season – and that’s how I’ll be looking to start.”

Flyers finished bottom of the pile after a difficult first season in the EIHL but Dutiaume believes lessons have been learned.

He said: “We went into it with rose-tinted glasses, thinking we could go in with what we had and sit comfortably in mid-table.

“But we got the cold slap of reality, and it proved to be a tough campaign for fans, players and directors.

“Make no mistake, the directors took last year very personally and found it hard to take. They have a proud tradition as owners of bringing success to this club.

“They are not in the Elite to make up the numbers, and finish bottom of the table every season.”

Dutiaume is adamant that the club will be better equipped for its second EIHL campaign.

“We’ll have a team of Brits who have a full year’s experience behind them,” he said.

“A lot more will be expected of them in year two – and that goes for everyone in the organisation.

“The club knows it has to go with a near full import quota from the start.

“There are plenty guys available at this time of the year – some are even still competing in play-offs back home – so it will be up to us to do our homework, identify the players we want and then sell our organisation to them.”

Dutiaume revealed that he is in advanced negotiations with an assistant coach – and he also told fans to expect changes to the roster.

“All the guys from last season have been spoken to but we have to be reasonable about it,” he explained.

“We finished 10th last year so we’re going to need some personnel changes to propel us up the table.

“We’ll do our homework and bring in quality players who want to part of the club, town and community.

“We’re not everybody’s cup of tea – we’re not a big arena team and we don’t have facilities of some clubs, but that doesn’t automatically equate to substandard hockey.

“That will be a big part of the ethos this year. People are going to know what’s expected of them on and off the ice.”