Dutiaume’s fairytale comeback at the age of 41

Todd Dutiaume back in action against Hull Stingrays on Saturday. Pic: Steve Gunn
Todd Dutiaume back in action against Hull Stingrays on Saturday. Pic: Steve Gunn

Todd Dutiaume spent all last week asking himself the same question over and over - should I play?

With his team down two key players through suspension, the Fife Flyers head coach, who hadn’t featured since suffering a broken knee in March 2013, eventually decided to lace up his skates.

And after notching a goal and an assist, helping the team to an 8-3 win over Hull Stingrays, it’s fair to say he made the right call.

It was a fairytale comeback for the 41-year-old, who got a rousing reception from the home fans as he showed that he’s lost none of the touch, if a little of the match fitness, he had before his lengthy lay-off.

“We briefly talked about it after training last week,” Dutes told the Press. “With us missing Fults and Thomas we found we really got thin quickly.

“I practiced all week with the team but it was pretty low key and I didn’t think I would be anywhere near match fitness, or have that sharpness.

“I thought about it all day and after talking with Stewey we thought we’d try keeping it the status quo, with me dressed in case I was required.

“As it turned out, I jumped in quite early after we went down 2-0 and I felt okay.

“I tired in the third as you could tell - I gave the puck away and they scored a third.

“But it was good - and it was nostaglic. I was preetty nervous before the game but I went out there and enjoyed myself.

“We didn’t play great at times but our offensive firepower right now is getting us through games.”

Dutiaume has always had a goal to one day return to the ice, but has suffered a number set-backs in his quest to get back to full fitness.

“It’s been more frustrating than hard,” Dutiaume explained. “It’s just taken a long, long time for the leg to respond.

“But I’ve had my folks here, and with some time off I’ve been able to go to the gym and build up some strength.

“Believe me at 41 it comes back a lot slower than it did 15 years ago.

“I still felt out of sorts. I got man of the match - but I think that was nostalgic.

“When you see guys like Fleming, Haines, Reber and Luka out there - I can’t keep up with those guys.

“But it’s nice to be part of it and it feels great to be out there with them.

“The guys were really supportive and helped me through it and it turned out to be a lot of fun.”

Dutiaume confessed that he was a bag of nerves before the match as he feared he’d be a flop.

“I don’t think I’ve been that nervous since I took over as bench coach,” he said.

“That was a whole bunch of different butterflies. In the warm-up I was all out of sorts, and didn’t feel comfortable.

“I thought I would just break myself in slowly, but once the pucks drop you got back to your old ways.

“I got a couple decent touches in the first, and Scoony made a goal off one I threw into the slot.

“After that confidence starts to come back and I managed to get myself a goal.

“A lot of it out there is confidence, but probably more important will be match fitness.

“In a higher paced game and with three full lines I don’t really feature in that game - I’m still miles away from that.”