Fife Flyers assistant coach Jeff Hutchins joins in training to boost numbers
Assistant coach Jeff Hutchins has asked Fife Flyers fans for patience as the team works through its current issues.
A run of four defeats in the last five games has coincided with injuries and suspension, dropping the short-benched Kirkcaldy side down to eighth in the Elite League standings.
In a tightly-packed table, Flyers are still within touching distance of the top half. However, the need for points is clear ahead of a busy festive period.
Hutchins said: “There is disappointment – guys in that room don’t like losing – but it’s a long season.
“There’s no panic within our camp, we’re just trying to get organised.”
Hutchins, who retired from playing four years ago, has even been taking part in training sessions to boost numbers after the departure of Chad Smith was followed by injuries to Mike Cazzola and Chase Schaber, with Sam Jones also recovering from knee surgery.
“I’ve been putting the equipment on at practice just because it’s not efficient to run with short bodies, as well as in games,” he said.
“We’re all pitching in, we’re all trying to do the right things, from the staff at the front office, to the people behind the scenes, everyone’s trying to pull their weight to get us through this period. The message to the fan base is just to be patient with us – the gap between eight and fourth or third is not that far.”
The good news is Schaber’s leg injury, picked up in the 6-2 defeat to Sheffield on Saturday, is not considered to be long-term, but is likely to keep him out for around two weeks, which could include as many as seven fixtures over a busy festive period.
“That’s the rough timeline,” Hutchins said. “He could be sooner or he could be a little longer.”
When asked whether signing cover was still an option for Fife, he added: “We’re always looking for options. People are probably sick of hearing this but it has to make financial sense.
“Every time we get into a situation like this we have to sit down with the owners and weigh up the financial impact of making changes, or bringing additional cover in.
“There’s a lot of factors go into that, your medical staff telling you the length of a person’s recovery time, looking at the schedule ahead, who’s available, your housing situation, your car situation. It’s very easy to say other teams are making moves, but at the same time they might have different variables that we don’t have at the moment.”
Hutchins admitted tiredness played a factor in the weekend defeats to Sheffield and Guildford
“We don’t fault the guys efforts over the two days, but certainly it came down to making tired mistakes,” he said.
With Cazzola and Gauthier back available, Flyers will be a little less depleted for the trip to Manchester Storm on Saturday before welcoming Belfast Giants to Fife Ice Arena on Sunday.
“We’ve beaten Belfast before at home, there’s no reason why we can’t do it again,” Hutchins added.
“Every time you think you’re in a rut, this team pull out a magical performance.”
“With how close the league is this year, you go into game believing you can win.
“Every team has just as much talent as the next, where the bigger teams have the advantage is their response time to injury and their ability to pull players in quickly.
“A lot of that is down to more budget, and some of it is down to the fact they’ve got a winning tradition and are willing to get guys over quickly.”