Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume has returned from his summer break in Canada and is putting the finishing touches to his roster ahead of the 2016-17 Elite League season.
Twelve imports from a quota of 14 have now been confirmed with the last two places – a netminder and a fifth defenceman – expected to be announced shortly, along with a core of British players.
The most recent signing, Sebastien Thinel, saw Flyers complete their forward line-up with someone who has a proven goalscoring record across North America and Europe.
And speaking exclusively to the Press, Dutiaume revealed that 35-year-old Thinel will provide part of the experienced backbone that he had set out to bring to the club this summer.
“We wanted to bring in guys who were maybe a little older in a few cases, a little more experienced, and certainly some leadership,” he said.
“I know that Sebastien fits that bill, and from anyone I’ve spoken to, we’re talking about a very good and respected individual, a very good hockey player and someone I feel that we’re really going to enjoy working with.”
Given his pedigree, Thinel is certain to have attracted interest from a number of clubs, and Dutiaume is delighted to have won the race, after missing out on some earlier targets.
He added: “We’ve lost out to rival clubs, and other leagues, a few players that we certainly had our sights set on, but on the same token, we’ve also won some battles as well and I know that I’m very pleased with all my signings this year.
Thinel joins a core of over 30s at the Flyers this season that includes Brendan Brooks, Ryan Dingle, David Turon and former NHLer and Stanley Cup champion Ric Jackman, who joins from rivals Braehead Clan.
“I think it’s important that you have strong leadership and direction in the dressing room,” Dutiaume said. “That was identified right from the end of the season and has been a common thread.
“We want people that want to take a bit of initiative and go out and lead by example. We also want people that will hold their team mates accountable and hold them up to high standards. We have a number of giuys like that in our line-up this year - and I think hockey players need that.
“They need leadership and direction from management and coaching staff, but they also need it from within their ranks. When you provide guys with strong leadership players respond to that well, and we’re hoping to reap the benefits from that this year.”
Flyers have been linked with GB international Ben Davies, who iced for Braehead the past two seasons, and while Dutiaume refused to be drawn on the speculation, he suggested any deal could hinge on finances.
“I’ve certainly spoken to a number of British players from the end of the season until now,” he said.
“That’s a step this club should be looking to make.
“But management has strong beliefs, and they are reflected in mine as well, that we’re a local-based club that works within its means.
“There’s always a line in the sand and increasingly my directors are getting frustrated with it, because I keep trying to push that line as far as I can.
“Eventually they stop me at some point because it has to be within the realms of affordability.
“In saying that, if you look at the guys we’ve announced and signed, there’s certainly no complaints.
“It looks like a great line-up, and I’m excited to see how they pair up against the opposition in the EIHL this year.”
Dutiaume also added that he intends to run with three lines this season, which will mean limited spaces for the usual core of local-based Brits.
“With 14 imports there’s not a lot of ice to go around,” he stated. “We’re only going to go with three lines, and that’s a concious decision on our part.”