The off-ice report

Thursday, 14th April 2005

The EIHL off-season is here, and with it comes the now traditional summer of rumours about who is playing where, who is coaching where, and which teams will be in which league.  But here at Manchester Phoenix we only deal in the facts, so if it's not official, we don't mention it!

The Belfast Giants have already began their work towards building a squad for next season, and like most teams their priority is securing a person for the top spot - the head coach.  Current Belfast coach Tony Hand, a player-coach who took the team to second place in the league this past season, is someone who the Giants' top brass would like to see return.  General Manager John Elliott says of Hand: "I've made it no secret that we would certainly like to have him back next year."

The GM continues: "Tony's deal remains on the table, however there are lots of elements for him to consider especially with family and working away from home.  It is an important decision for Tony and one which I don't wish to rush him into making.  Tony has only had a week or so at home to rest and reflect and he will take time to consider the year ahead.  What I can confirm is that at this point Tony is not talking to any other clubs about coaching next season."

Cardiff Devils have made their choice for the top spot in order to crack on with the task of building their team.  With Dave Whistle's position within the club unclear, the Devils have chosen to made Ed Patterson their player-coach, with Dave Matsos looking likely to step up to the role of assistant coach whilst maintaining his player status. 

Devils' Director of Hockey Shannon Hope, a former Devils player himself, hasn't ruled out altogether the return of Dave Whistle to the coaching role:  "We want Dave to come back, the door is open.  He has been fantastic over two seasons and he now needs time to go back home and talk things over with his family.  But he will be welcomed back to Cardiff."

Whilst his future with the club remains uncertain, Dave Whistle will continue to work with the club in securing players during the off-season.

Elite League newcomers Edinburgh Capitals revealed the reason for their move to the EIHL from the British National League.  Capitals General Manager Scott Neil asserts: "I have repeatedly said the Capitals need to be playing in the top league in the country.  We're always ambitious and this is the best way to take Edinburgh forward."

British National League team Bracknell Bees are facing uncertain times with the withdrawal of chairman John Nike OBE, who is also withdrawing from the Thames Valley Tigers basketball team.  John Nike has been in charge at Bracknell for some years, overseeing the club through their ISL days during which they claimed the league title under the coaching of Dave Whistle.  The Bees recently tasted success with the BNL league trophy this past season, but the success of the club on the ice wasn't sufficient to keep John Nike involved in the club.  A meeting of fans and interested parties took place on Wednesday 13th April, and early reports indicate that there is a local Bracknell consortium interested in taking over the running of the club, however no official statements have been released to this effect.

by Richard Allan