Fife Flyers: Signing talks progressing – we will have a team

Fife Flyers coaching team - Todd Dutiaume & Jeff Hutchins.
Fife Flyers coaching team - Todd Dutiaume & Jeff Hutchins.

Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume has assured fans that further signings are in the pipeline after the season ticket deadline passed with less than half of the roster complete.

Supporters had until yesterday (Wednesday) to book their seats for the 2019/20 campaign, which begins in just 23 days with the first pre-season match against Danish side Herlev Eagles.

Sticking with their summer tradition, Flyers are biding their time as they trail behind their EIHL rivals in the signing department with only 10 confirmed players thus far, and eight import slots still to be filled.

However, Dutiaume insisted that good progress is being made as talks advance with a number of targets.

“There’s definitely a number of things going on in the background,” he said. “There’s never been a time of stagnation – we’ve always been moving forward.

“We had a few initial disappointments – it is a very competitive signing market out there – and while some things have gone our way, some things have not.

“These talks have been long and drawn out, with players having more options, and often represented by two or three agents.

“It’s a different business than it was six years ago, which is fine, you just have to adapt and make sure you know the rules of the game.

“Sometimes when players are faced with so many choices it can be difficult to come to a decision, but we have get these things over the line.

“We’re not sitting here concerned at this point - a lot of teams still have empty roster spots.

“We know we’ll have a team and we’re quite pleased with the ways things are shaping up.”

Dutiaume confirmed he is finalising terms with another two imports from last season’s squad, which would bring the total number of returnees to eight.

That would leave the six remaining import slots to be filled with new faces, including a starting netminder, a priority position for the head coach.

“That’s probably our most pressing issue right now,” he said.

“We’ve been reasonably far down the line with a number of names.

“Teams who find themselves in a similar position to us in the league have seen the success you can have off the back of having an excellent netminder.

“That’s only making the competition more fierce for these individuals.

“It’s something we’ve been working on all summer and are continuing to do so.”

Dutiaume believes wages in the EIHL are being driven up this summer following a number of high-profile signings, with players coming directly from top leagues like the KHL in Russia.

And he has fears over the stability of the league.

“When you see some of the signings around the league you hope that it doesn’t push some teams out of business,” he said.

“It can make it more difficult for us but it can also relieve some pressures because that market is not a reality for us in most instances.

“We tend to find players that maybe need a second chance, or have never been given that chance.

“Carlo Finucci took heavy criticism before he’d even laced up for us, but now three years later he’s one of the fan favourites and you can look back at all the special moments he’s enjoyed as a team and individually.

“It’s just one example of players we identify, and give a chance to, who go on to become successful.”