Flyers and Clan fans in salute to Jim Lynch

Jim Lynch in 1985 when he was player/coach at Murrayfield Racers (Pic: Bill Newton/TSPL)
Jim Lynch in 1985 when he was player/coach at Murrayfield Racers (Pic: Bill Newton/TSPL)

Former Fife Flyers player and coach, Jim Lynch, will be rinkside for one of the biggest games of the ice hockey season tonight.

He is Braehead Clan’s guest of honour as Flyers travel to Renfrew for a massive Gardiner Conference showdown

Fife Flyers import Ed Zawatsky with head coach Jim Lynch  (Pic: Bill Dickman)

Fife Flyers import Ed Zawatsky with head coach Jim Lynch (Pic: Bill Dickman)

The VIP invite is to mark the 20th anniversary of Ayr Scottish Eagles, coached by Lynch, Grand Slamming the Super League – but his long ties with Fife add another appropriate dimension to the salute.

While this is very much a chance to celebrate an Eagles’ landmark triumph, it will also give a new generation of Flyers’ fans an opportunity to salute one of the club’s great servants, and a player who enjoyed a distinguished career in the UK both as a coach and a player.

Lynch, a native of Toronto, enjoyed a 20-year playing career in the UK, and it began with Fife Flyers in 1980-81 when he was the joint recipient of the league’s ‘Overseas Rookie Of The Year.’ He netted a hat-trick in his debut as Flyers defeated Aviemore 14-3.

A player with great vision on the ice, he moved across the Forth to enjoy three seasons with Murrayfield Racers, coached by Alex Dampier, before taking over the running of the team as player-coach, steering a great capital side to play-off success.

Jim Lynch, former player and head coach with Fife Flyers

Jim Lynch, former player and head coach with Fife Flyers

He then returned to Fife to become one of the first imports to ice with Kirkcaldy Kestrels, and then with Flyers before heading south to ice with Solihull Barons and Humberside Seawhawks,

His return to Kirkcaldy in 1993 as head coach saw him break new ground with the signing of Doug Smail direct from the NHL, and, arguably more important, he also brought Mark Morrison to Fife.

Not only was he the perfect partner for Smail, but Mo stayed and created a whole new legacy of his own, leading the team to their own unprecedented Grand Slam success in the BNL.

Lynch, meanwhile, went on to coach Dumfries Vikings before jumping into the Super League to coach Ayr Eagles, with the late Milan Figala as his assistant.

They forged a great partnership behind the bench, backed by businessman Bill Barr.

His first season saw the team finish third and earn him a Coach of the Year award, and he followed that with a clean sweep of silverware and a second coaching crown.

That success saw Eagles qualify for the European Hockey League where they posted truly outstanding home and away wins over Russian champions, AK Bars Kazan.

Often known as the quiet man of hockey, Lynch was never afraid to speak his mind or follow his own path, and he knew the game inside out.

His induction into the UK’sHall of Fame in 2001 is testament to his career and his successes.

A pre-game presentation will be made to him on behalf of Braehead.

Gareth Chalmers, hockey and operations director, said: “Kevin McCoskrie came to me with the idea earlier in the season of commemorating the Ayr Scottish Eagles Grand Slam anniversary and I straight away wanted to acknowledge the occasion from a Clan perspective.

“Wwhat the Scottish Eagles achieved in that Grand Slam season was remarkable and hasn’t been repeated by a Scottish team since.

“We reached out to Jim and invited him along to the game against one of his former teams in the Fife Flyers – we were delighted when he accepted.

“I am sure he’ll get a warm welcome to Braehead Arena from the Purple Army and visiting Fife Flyers supporters.”