It took a month in France for Kyle Haines to realise that he had unfinished business at Fife Flyers.
After spending three consecutive seasons in Kirkcaldy, the 29-year-old defenceman decided to try his luck in Europe, signing for Chamonix-Morzine in the summer.
But after struggling to settle at his new club, Haines realised that his heart still belonged to Fife and he made a warm return to his hockey ‘home’ in October.
“I feel more at home here,” he told the Press. “The hockey is more enjoyable for me.
“I feel more content - everything just feels right here. I’m glad I came back.
“Coming back in I felt like a new guy again, which is weird because it’s my fourth season here.
“There’s a lot of new faces, but it’s a really good locker room, and we have some experience. Brooksy, Moyer, Jackman - they have played a lot of games in different leagues and won championships at various levels.
“It’s great to have those guys in your locker room that know what it takes to win.
“It’s definitely a different feel and dynamic - there’s only two or three single guys on the team this year so there’s lots of wives and girlfriends and kids.”
With 188 appearnaces, Haines is second only to Danny Stewart as Fife’s longest serving Elite League import.
“I’m a pretty indecisive guy and I go from season to season,” he said. “Last year I made the decision to leave but it was nothing against the club or anything.
“It was just a personal choice. I did it, I tried it, and it didn’t work out. I’m at the age where I’m just taking it season by season, and we’ll see how things go.
“I enjoy it here, they treat me well, and it’s been a good run so far. One day I’ll look back and have a lot of fond memories about the people, the games, the nights out - everything here. It’s been a good place for me.”
One thing missing from Haines scrapbook in Fife is silverware -- something he hopes to address this season.
“We’ve had some close brushes,” he said. “I’ve been at the play-off finals twice and losing the semi-final last year was tough, especially with the conference sneaking away from us after such a good run.
“It would’ve been great to hang a banner here as conference champions.
“My personal goals are there, but above all else is the team goal and silverware of any kind would be great this year, and I think we have the team to do it.
“At times it may not look like it, but hockey is a tough game mentally and physically and you go through patches. “People are quick to jump on you and criticise - it’s all part of the job - but I think we have a good group in here that has a lot of experience and leadership and we’ll find a way to turn things around.”
Haines was speaking this week after a run of three straight defeats, but he is confident the team can turn their form around.
“I think in times like this we’ll see that experience and leadership come out a little more,” he said. “Our backs are up against the wall and we’ve got to find a way to be better and ask a little more of ourselves from top to bottom.”
Flyers are preparing for a home fixture against Belfast Giant this Saturday, and Haines is targeting two points.
“It’s a one game weekend so we’ve got to scrap,” he said. “We need these points or we’re going to start falling in the table.
“It’s a huge weekend for us, and a big week of preparation. As a group, we have to find a way to respond.”