Flyers NHL signing hopes ‘far-fetched’

Fife Flyers player-coach Todd Dutiaume. Scottish Autumn Cup at Fife Ice Arena. Pic: Steve Gunn - shotbyagunn photography
Fife Flyers player-coach Todd Dutiaume. Scottish Autumn Cup at Fife Ice Arena. Pic: Steve Gunn - shotbyagunn photography

TODD Dutiuame believes there is as much chance of Wayne Rooney signing for Raith Rovers as there is an NHL star coming to play for Fife Flyers.

North America’s NHL – the world’s top ice hockey league – is currently embroiled in a lock-out following a dispute between the players’ union and the league.

This has raised hopes among UK ice hockey fans that locked out NHL players may now make their way to these shores to play in the Elite League.

Nottingham Panthers became the first British club to make such a signing this week, bringing in Anthony Stewart from NHL side Carolina Hurricanes on a short-term contract.

NHL players have moved to Fife in the past – the likes of Al Sims, Doug Smail and Laurie Boschman all turned out at Fife Ice Arena in the late 80s and early 90s.

But Flyers current player-coach Dutiaume admits any notion of the Kirkcaldy club benefiting from the current NHL lock-out is unrealistic.

“It’s pretty far-fetched,” he said. “It would be like an English Premiership player coming to play for Raith Rovers.

“You wouldn’t expect to see Wayne Rooney up here. The sport has moved on a little bit.

“It would be great for the fans to see it, but right now, the dynamic in the room is exactly how we want it and we’re happy with our squad.

“Will that change in future? Possibly. We always have our feelers out for players and we’re keeping our finger on the pulse.”

While always on the look-out for potential new signings, Dutiaume believes recent results have helped justify the club’s policy on imports.

Elite League rules permit clubs to ice up to 11 overseas professionals in their line-up, but Flyers have opted to start the season with nine, two short of the quota.

Back-to-back home wins over Dundee Stars and Coventry Blaze at the weekend made it seven wins out of eight for the 74-year-old club so far this season.

And Dutiaume reckons that the club’s approach to giving local talent a chance is being vindicated.

“People might question why we go with less imports and a full line of Brits, but these guys are gaining valuable experience, and learning how to win hockey games,” he said.

“That third line is certainly not letting us down. They’re not getting scored on, playing hard every shift, and are only going to get better.

“They make their mistakes but they make up for them, plus they are eating up some minutes.”