Fife Flyers close in on first summer signing

Todd Dutiaume, head coach Fife Flyers.  Stephen Gunn Photography.
Todd Dutiaume, head coach Fife Flyers. Stephen Gunn Photography.

It has taken them longer than the rest of the Elite League, but Fife Flyers are finally closing in on their first signing announcement of the summer.

Head coach Todd Dutiaume confirmed that he has reached a verbal agreement with a member of last season’s squad and hopes to be able to officially conclude the deal over the weekend.

Such news may provide some relief to fans, who have been growing increasingly impatient in recent weeks after watching a succession of key players leave the club.

However, Dutiaume stressed that things are progressing behind the scenes, albeit more slowly than he would like after a delayed start to his summer recruitment.

“We’re not holding anything back,” Dutiaume said. “I understand the need for more transparency from this organisation, and, believe me, I want to get stuff out as quickly as possible because I want people to get excited about their hockey.

“There have been a few frustrations, starting off as late as we did, but we’re starting to make progress and I’m pretty confident there will be an announcement before the end of the week.

“It’ll be good to get the recruitment kicked off finally, and it’s my hope that now we’re coming into a time where more names are becoming available to us, and I’m looking at a number of guys right now.

“Everybody’s announced players, but nobody is deep into their line-up yet, maybe bar Sheffield, and that’s reflective of the market we’re in right now, which is quite competitive, not only in trying to attract players to the EIHL, but within the EIHL itself.

“We definitely have players that we’re speaking to and guys in mind about the way we want the team to look, but it’s not as straight-forward as guys being desperate for jobs.

“They’re really looking at their options and we have to make sure we’re competitive and we sell Fife in a positive light.”

Dutiaume admitted previously that his inability to offer contracts to players during April and most of May have left him behind in his recruitment plans, but he assured fans that they will have a team

“I’ve definitely had way busier Aprils and Mays, although not with a great deal more progress,” he said.

“I’m not used to having time off at the end of the season, so you feel antsy when you’re not doing anything at start of recruitment season, and you really feel you’re missing out at some targets that you’d been looking at over the course of the winter and seasons past.

“Saying that, we haven’t seen a great flurry of signings around the league, although I think that will pick up in the coming weeks.

“It’s important that we focus on ourselves and put together the best team possible.

“I’m well aware of the time constraints we’re under, and it’s going to be a busy, busy summer for us.

“A bunch of teams have challenges ahead, but we always get there in the end.

“It might be one of those summers where most signings come late, but then come fast and furious and people won’t be able to keep up.”

Meanwhile, former Flyers defenceman Ric Jackman has secured his first coaching job after hanging up his skates at the end of the season.

The Stanley Cup winner has taken over the reins of Canadian side Bradford Rattlers in the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League.