Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume is still hoping to sign cover for his short-benched team – but admits the club has to live within its means.
Flyers have brought in mid-season reinforcements in each of the past six seasons with new additions often arriving around the festive period.
However, this season’s declining attendances – Sunday’s home defeat to Cardiff Devils was watched by a crowd of just over 1100 – are putting pressure on club finances.
With Danick Gauthier serving a two-match ban, Mike Cazzola an injury doubt, and Sam Jones out until the new year as he recovers from knee surgery, Dutiaume admits now would be a good time to bring in some reinforcements – if club finances allow.
“It would, but there’s a cost factor involved, and our attendances are lower than normal for a variety of reasons, one being the fact that we have a lot of Sunday games now,” he said.
“Fans don’t have that continuity now where Saturday night is ice hockey night in Fife, and that doesn’t do us any favours.”
Flyers average gate this season, according to the EIHL website, is 1441, which is 200 fewer than last season, and 400 down over two years.
Asked whether the lower turn-outs could scupper his hopes of adding to his roster, Dutiaume added: “All I’m saying is it’s going to have an influence on it.
“I can’t be on that side of the decision-making.
“I’ve been pretty open and honest about the fact we’d love some additional support here, but there’s the reality of having to live within our means as this league continues to drive up wages.
“This year there was an exponential jump in wages and there’s a heavy cost factor involved in all decisions we have to make here.”
With no new additions in the pipeline, Flyers face travelling to Sheffield Steelers on Saturday short-benched, as they were for last Sunday’s home defeat to Cardiff Devils.
Their performance in that match, coming back from 4-1 down to tie the game before falling to an unfortunate 6-4 loss, will provide some reassurance, with Gauthier set to return from his ban for Sunday’s home match against Guildford Flames.
“Going to Sheffield without Danick, who is a big physical presence in the line-up, and with Cazzola at this point being unknown, will be a big, big ask out of the guys again, but I know they’re up for it,” Dutiaume added
Gauthier was suspended by the EIHL Department of Player Safety following a video review of a check during Saturday’s 5-1 win over Dundee Stars, which resulted in an injury to Dundee’s Shawn Boutin.
Dutiaume said: “I don’t question the decision but my guys feel that they don’t enjoy the same level of protection.
“That’s just their feelings and general sense of unease about it.
“It was obviously disappointing because Danick’s been playing incredibly well for us.
“He’s a huge, key player and a big loss over two games for us.”
Flyers record over the past four weekends has been win one, lose one – a situation that has seen them stagnate in seventh position in the standings.
“Generally, there’s still quite a tightness in the groupings,” Dutiaume added.
“Ideally for us we’d love to be stringing four point weekends together.
“That’s where you really start to climb the table.
“By the same token, in this league where everything’s tight. it’s crucial that every weekend you try to pick up points.”