Todd Dutiaume is set to embark on his landmark 20th season with Fife Flyers after the club formally confirmed his return as head coach today.
And his challenge is not only to build a new team, but one that entertains and brings the fans back rinkside on match night.
The Press, which revealed last week that Dutiaume was returning, understands the drive is on to re-ignite the match night and ensure the biggest crowds possible to underpin the budgets as the club embarks on its seventh season in an Elite League which has now expanded to 12 teams.
And that could mean a grittier team taking to the ice.
In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with the Fife Free Press – which touched on everything from signings to social media – Dutiaume hinted at what may lie in store for the September face-off.
He said: “This club needs players who are hard-nosed, and aren’t going to be pushed around.
‘‘In the era of the EIHL, people have responded when we’ve had a little bit of toughness in the line-up. I think it’s crucial we locate that, not only in an individual player, but in a team ethos. I think this town will respond to that, but we also can’t lose our advantage of the big ice at home, where we have speed and talent intermingled in that.”
Dutiaume led the club to sixth place last season and a sixth successive playoff spot, but the team, missed out on the finals weekend, and struggled to make any impact on the conference title.
Flyers have already lost captain Ryan Dingle to Coventry, while stand-out netminder, Shane Owen, has also left after one season, but signing talks are underway with a number of skaters as Dutiaume aims to bring new faces to Kirkcaldy.
And the fact that it is his 20th season – he joined from Telford Tigers in 1997 – makes is extra special.
Dutiaume said: The club had to take a step back at the end of last season, and consider its long term future and the options available, both in this league and in other leagues.
‘‘I also wanted to take my time to consider my position and my future.
‘’But, to represent this club for almost a quarter of its existence is a huge honour, and something I am extremely proud of.”
Dutiaume – the longest serving import in Flyers’ history – is also keen to see a new look team and a new approach for the forthcoming campaign.
“When I spoke with the directors regarding the future of the club and the season ahead, I wanted to bring up some of my own concerns,’’ he said.
‘‘I also wanted to express my desire to ensure we get more information out there in the public domain and that we all work hard to be a more engaging and transparent organisation.
“I get that fans are frustrated right now, but we are not able to sign a whole team in such a short period of time.
“We are in advanced talks with a couple of returning guys and I would like to think that we will be in a position to share that information very soon with our fans.’’
>> Read more from Todd Dutiaume in Thursday’s Fife Free Press, and an extended interview online at Fife Today