Todd Dutiaume is expecting an improved Fife Flyers team this weekend with defenceman Phil Paquet back in the line-up.
The Fife head coach admitted that he has been asking “too much” of his four import D-men, who have been forced to log extra minutes during Paquet’s absence.
Flyers failed to pick up a point in weekend defeats to Dundee and Cardiff, but with Paquet set to return from injury for this weekend’s Challenge Cup games against Edinburgh and Dundee, Dutiaume is hoping for a quick turnaround in fortunes.
“Years ago you could get away with running short,” he said. “But now, when teams are coming after you in waves, and there’s no let up, it’s vital that you have a full complement of players.
“It’s huge for us to have Phil back. The guys are excited, it takes off eight or nine minutes playing time, per game, per guy.
“Over the course of a weekend, 16 to 18 minutes is a lot. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s almost a period of hockey.
“We will be seeing a lot more out of these guys. Instead of a guy who’s exhausted after the first period, we’re expecting that they’ll be playing a lot better.”
With injuries and suspensions to contend with throughout a long season, keeping his team at full strength will be a challenge for Dutiaume, particularly since the club is unlikely to carry an extra import, as they did for the second half of the last campaign.
“I’m not calling on my directors to give me an extra import, but you can see how important it is for teams that can afford it,” he said.
“One guy goes down, another guy rolls in. For the lower budget teams, it’s just a reality that if you get injuries and suspensions, you get punished for it.
“When you get to the point where we are, budget-wise, you’re constrained.
“For years, my directors have alluded to this line in the sand, and I believe I’m finally standing on it.
“We have ownership that has given us every single thing we’ve asked for, but eventually they are going to say no.
“Financially, it becomes unsustainable.
“We’re getting great crowds, but we’ve attracted a higher quality of player to Kirkcaldy this year and there’s increased running costs.
“There’s also the ownership’s beliefs because if this goes to a full import league, I’m not entirely sure of their commitment - that’s not what they stand by, it’s not what they believe in, and it’s not the job spec I accepted. They are very concerned about that.”