Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume has not ruled out further changes to the roster following the sudden exit of David Turon.
The Czech defenceman will not be directly replaced after being released as a cost-cutting measure this week, but with two weeks until the signing deadline, Dutiaume admitted any new arrivals would mean further departures.
“The market has been very stale all year and there hasn’t been a lot of movement, but if the right player comes up in the next two weeks that makes us a better hockey club then I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger,” Dutiaume told the Press.
With Shayne Stockton back in the USA recuparating from injury, Flyers have effectively been operating with 16 imports, two over the EIHL quota, since the arrival of Bryan Cameron last month.
It was a position club directors were unable to sustain, which led to the decision to release Turon.
“I knew it was coming and I had to make a decision,” Dutiaume said.
“I fought to keep the extra guy for as long as possible, and the directors were very supportive in that, and saw my rationale in at least allowing us to get up to full strength.
“Their position before the start of the season was that, categorically, we would not carry an extra import, but I effectively pushed them into carrying two extras – we still have Shayne Stockton on the books.
“If a player gets a season-ending injury in your service you’re still obligated to keep him. You don’t just cut ties when he gets hurt.
“We’re still carrying an extra import now – just one that we don’t have as an option. Technically he could come back for the end of the season if he recovers, but I suspect not.”
The departure of Turon followed a weekend in which Flyers fell to back-to-back defeats to Braehead Clan and Cardiff Devils.
However, Dutiaume was happy with his team’s effort over the two games and he urged his players not to be disheartened by the results, particularly the Braehead defeat, which dealt a severe blow to Flyers’ conference title aspirations.
“It’s not as if the team didn’t show up and we let it slip through our fingers,” he said. “We played good – we just had trouble with our finishing.
“It was a very deflated dressing room afterwards. Everyone was aware of the significance of that game and how vital it was to our conference charge, so it probably had some blowback into the start of the game on Sunday.”
Despite now falling nine points behind Clan, Dutiaume is refusing to concede the conference title.
“There’s still a lot of hockey left in this conference, and absolutely no way are we throwing the towel in,” he said. “It’s important we stay competitive for the rest of the season and push these guys right to the end.
“We’re definitely relying on a few favours but, the good thing is, nobody is nailing points at this stage like they were last season.
“Last season’s Edinburgh team went 23 losses in a row, but right now we have five competitive teams battling for play-off spots, so all the points are up for grabs.
“I want to be optimistic about it, and in the last two months of the season you want to be building up to the play off run as well.
“It’s important we keep this positivity in the room. With a wee boost of confidence on the powerplay, and a few tweaks, we can keep rolling.”
After a weekend that saw Flyers go 0/13 on the powerplay, Dutiaume is hoping his team can make better use of any extra man opportunities in this weekend’s home double header with Edinburgh Capitals on Saturday followed by Nottingham Panthers on Sunday.
“Confidence can be huge factor in the powerplay and right now we’re maybe just a little low on that,” he said.
“We ran into the top PK in league in Cardiff and although we had some good zone time we couldn’t get pucks through and nothing dropped for us.
“It’s something that could blow up this weekend - we have the personal to do it.
“For a big part of the weekend past we controlled the puck and got ourselves into the zone so it will probably be fine tuning rather than a complete retool.”