The off-ice report

Friday, 26th August 2005
Belfast Giants' efforts to sign Theo Fleury from the Chicago Blackhawks have been successful, with the vital work permit being granted.  Fleury looks set to join the team in October, with Giants Coach Ed Courtenay preparing to sign a stand-in player for the start of the season until Fleury arrives.  Speaking of the signing of Fleury, Coach Courtenay sees it as a major boon for the team, saying "This is the biggest ever signing for the Belfast Giants and indeed for the Elite League.  Fleury has a Gold Olympic medal from the last Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and he has also won the Stanley Cup with Calgary Flames in 1989.  Having scored over 1000 points in as many NHL games we know Theo will be a huge boost for the sport of ice hockey in UK.  I am really looking forward to coaching Theo and I know with the lineup that I have already signed, we will be strong opposition for all teams in this year's League."
Having lost defenceman Daryl Andrews to ES WeiƟwasser, Sheffield Steelers have announced the signing of Swedish blue-liner Jonas Lennartsson.  The International player iced last season for Cortina SG in Italy, the losing finalists in the Italian Play-Offs.  Steelers Coach Paul Heavey regards Lennartsson as "another player who I believe will be worth the wait, Jonas helps of course by not requiring a work permit.  I like the fact he played in North America, I am told he plays the rough stuff very well and isn't intimidated at all.  Everyone in Italy had nothing but good things to say about him and I think he will be a super addition to our club." 
As well as losing Andrews, Sheffield have also lost the services of Marc LeFebvre, with the Canadian forward signing to play with Coventry Blaze.  Paul Thompson, Coach of the Blaze, saw the chance to sign the 23 year old utility player when contacted by LeFebvre, saying "I heard from Marc when Sheffield said they weren't going to have him back, and I realised that he was exactly what I was looking for.  I didn't plan to have 11 imports at the start of the season, but there's no point in running to catch up if you have an injury.  I have a good squad now with a lot of versatility.  Someone like Marc will bring a lot of energy and a good defensive game, which gives me the option of using players like Tom Watkins differently. He is a great skater and will be an asset on the penalty kill in particular."
Nottingham Panthers may have lost Mark Cadotte to HC Fassa in Italy, but they have added Dan Tessier to their roster, signing the forward from Fresno Falcons in the ECHL.  Tessier has previously played for Ottawa 67's,  Louisiana IceGators, Amsterdam Tigers and Columbus Cottonmouths before his move to Fresno, and Nottingham Panthers Coach Mike Blaisdell is pleased to have signed the 26 year old.  "Every signing is a key signing but I am very pleased to have added Dan Tessier to the roster," says Coach Blaisdell. "He may not be the biggest guy but he has a big heart and plays with a lot of guts and determination.  He is gritty, gets stuck in and picks up more than his fair share of points.  He works both ends of the ice and is great on the powerplay.  He fits the bill and I think the fans will love him."
Jason Norrie has switched allegiances from Basingstoke to London, signing for the Racers after spending the second half of last season with Elite League rivals Basingstoke Bison.  The former Quad City Motors player ices in a forward role, and Racers Coach Dennis Maxwell sees his role as being more than point scoring.  "We are really happy with this signing," says Coach Maxwell. "Norrie is a hard working, hard hitting forward who is going to bring both size and skill to the Racers.  Every team in this league has gotten tougher.  But we are looking for players that are both tough and talented, Norrie certainly fits that bill."
Basingstoke Bison have filled their netminder vacancy with the signing of Steve Briere from Fife Flyers.  "Steve is a player that is coming off a bad season, there's no denying that," says Bison Coach Mark Bernard, "but I came off a bad season and was MVP of the Manchester Storm the following year.  Steve has always done well and even led his team in Fife to a championship two years ago and was named MVP of the play-offs for his efforts and I see no reason for him not to return to that form again.  This is a goalie that wants it so bad, his desire and work ethic are second to none.  Jody Lehman was a BNL goalie that has made the jump quite effectively to the Elite League and they both came to the UK via the ECHL, I expect Steve to do the same.  He is quick, feisty and determined to prove any doubters wrong and he will!" 
by Richard Allan