Fife Flyers don’t traditionally make signing announcements in April, but ice hockey is a year-round sport these days.
Todd Dutiaume’s confirmation as head coach came as no surprise. At the play-off finals weekend at Nottingham when asked about next season, he spoke very much of the plans in hand and the challenges ahead.. He didn’t give the air of a man looking to step back or down.
Danny Stewart’s departure, confirmed today, was also no great surprise.
With his skates hung up and his desire to forge ahead in coaching it was clear he was looking at all his options. When Coventry Blaze decided to call time on Chuck Weber’s tenancy on Tuesday, most fans had joined the dots long before formal announcements came from either club.
Stewart was a player with Blaze. He was at the heart of their championship winning teams and remains a firm favourite.
And Blaze are a club in desperate need of a shake-up - the intensely competitive Stewart will quickly make his mark on a dressing-room that udner-performed last season, barely scraping into the play-offs at the last minute.
But that leaves a big challenge for Fife - how do they replace him both on and off the ice?
The intensity Stewy brought to games night in, night out, was one of the keys to Fife’s performances.
His partnership in the room with Dutiaume was made over five often tough, challenging seasons.
They worked well together, and one of the keys to the progress the fans expect and the club is aiming for in 2016-17 is how a new partnership is forged in the room. And forged quickly.
Two names are being chucked around the rumour mill - Bobby Chaumont and Riley Emmerson.
Chaumont, a vastly experienced forward who knows how to stack the points, is a close friend of Dutiaume’s, and has had a year away as assistant coach at Dundee where he helped bring some pride back to the club and steer them into the play-offs.
Emo? It’s easy to see why the fans can see him fitting in.
On the ice he’s a tough, experienced defenceman who’d stand up for the team and give it some grittiness.
Emo not only built a Caps side that freewheeled for the first half of the season, he gave the club some pride back and gave the fans something to shout about.
He made hockey fun again- and Fife could do with some of that personality to light up the rink. On the night before the play-off finals, in a packed Bunkers Hill pub, Riley had time for everyone - and watching the Fife fans chatting away with him it was hard not to wonder what he could bring to the club on and off the ice.
Emmerson’s position at Edinburgh has yet to be resolved - the club has yet to announce its head coach for 2016-17 - but he has stated often how much he has loved the city, but Kirkcaldy is the shortest journey away on the other side of the Forth.
File under ‘speculation’ if you wish, but it’s a rumour that just ain’t going away ...
But whoever gets the gig, it’s one of the key calls facing the team this summer...