Danny Stewart has revealed that unfinished business has drawn him back to Fife Flyers for another season.
Stewart resisted offers from two Elite League clubs - including one as head coach - to return to his role as Flyers’ player associate coach.
It will be the 36-year-old’s fifth season in Kirkcaldy and he is looking forward to the challenge of taking the club to the next level.
“I had a head coach offer from another team in the league - and assistant coach from another - and I had to look into all the pros and cons,” he said.
“I’ve made it public that I want to be head coach again one day but that’s not to say that I want to just jump into the first situation where the opportunity arises.
“It has to be the right for me. I’ve seen Fife grow as a club on and off the ice over the past few years and I feel there’s unfinished business.
“Last year ended with a bad taste in my mouth so I wanted the challenge of coming back to help this team get to where it should be.”
A key factor behind Stewart’s loyalty to Fife is the opportunity to continue his playing career while working closely alongside head coach Todd Dutiaume.
“It’s great that I have the opportunity to play and still be heavily involved in the coaching and recruiting side of things,” he said.
“Dutes is head coach - he makes the final calls - but he’s included me in a lot of big decisions.
“Fife is a great place to play and I’d like to see the team progress and push into the top half of the table.
“I still enjoy playing and I feel I’ve got a lot to give.
“My points production was down a bit last year, but a lot of that was down to the league improving and my role on the third line.
“If the right coaching situation came up then I wouldn’t hesitate to hang up the stakes, but at the moment I still have that desire and competitiveness to play.”
Stewart is confident that Flyers will improve on last season’s disappointing campaign which saw them finish eighth in the EIHL standings.
“We brought back a lot of returning guys and felt we upgraded in certain areas but for whatever reason we didn’t have the right mix,” he said.
“I don’t think it was a recruitment issue or a talent issue - we just didn’t have that chemistry on and off the ice.
“Myself and Dutes put a bit of that on our shoulders because we didn’t have the right balance.
“Guys were pretty one-dimensional - we had lots of talent but not enough physicallity or enough two-way players in the line-up.
“We definitely know where we went wrong.”
Stewart stressed that Flyers will take extra care this summer when it comes to recruiting the right players.
“We need to be certain on players characteristics, not only on the ice, but off the ice as well,” he said.
“To be fair this is something we’ve always done but we’ll do a bit more due diligence this summer.
“At the moment we’re talking to some very good players - the right type as well.
“Things are going along quite nicely and we hope to have some news soon.”