Todd Dutiaume is looking forward to leading Fife Flyers into their 80th anniversary season this weekend, having been involved in a quarter of the club’s existence.
Few individuals have had such a significant impact on the club’s history, and head coach Dutiaume, who is entering his 21st season with Fife, is hoping for a successful campaign.
“I’m incredibly blessed to have been involved for that long,” he said.
“It’s a big year for us as an organisation, not only for our 80th, but we’re also defending our first trophy in the Elite League era, and that’s something we’re very driven to do.
“It’s important we keep our heads down and do what we have to do to keep us moving forward, and competitive every weekend.”
Flyers start their historic season with two home Challenge Cup matches against Glasgow Clan on Saturday, followed by Belfast Giants on Sunday.
The club received a boost with the arrival of defenceman Scott Aarssen this week following visa days.
And Dutiaume hopes the team can hit the ground running after the most comprehensive preseason programme to date.
“We’ve certainly made progress over the past couple of weeks,” he said.
“We saw a lot of positive things came out of the five games, and some areas we want to tidy up, but that’s preseason.
“I feel we’re getting there and the addition of Scott Aarssen this week will certainly give the guys a boost. He’s a big piece for us at the back end and I’m interested to see how he settles our D down.
“He’s another dependable body back there that can move that puck, and he can have an effect offensively as well.”
Flyers are anticipating a near sell-out for the home opener against Clan and Dutiaume is expecting another fierce rivalry this season.
“I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere in here,” he said.
“By all accounts it’s going to be near-enough sold out, and that’s great for our new guys to have in our home opener. The game will be tense and we’ll be re-iterating the importance of it.”
Flyers will face a different Clan side from the one they dominated last season with a new head coach in Pete Russell and a revamped roster.
“You see a lot of players there who have been in the league before,” Dutiaume said.
“It looks like a conscious decision on their part to attract players who know this league and what it takes to be successful.
“Peter’s international resume speaks for itself, and with the weight of the Glasgow organisation behind him, they look like being a formidable opponent this year.”
Dutiaume is expecting to ice a full line-up this weekend with Evan Bloodoff expected to recover from the slight knock which forced him out of Sunday’s friendly encounter against Tolzer Lowen.
“He just had a minor niggle and there was no point in pushing it,” he said.