I hope everyone has enjoyed the summer thus far and re-charged the batteries ahead of the hockey season, which is literally upon us!
We are only two weeks or so, away from players arriving in Dundee, to start training camp.
So everyone is putting the final touches to travel, visas and houses ahead of the impending arrivals from across the Atlantic and possibly Europe.
This off-season has been the busiest in the Stars history, a tremendous amount of work has been put in daily throughout the summer.
Both on the commercial front and on vital strategic planning for the season ahead.
A professional club ensures no stone is unturned to aid a smooth transition for the players and to ensure we create that “NO EXCUSE” environment you all hear me talk about regularly.
A strong summer can help ease a lot of pain in the winter!
As many people know, I have been a big advocate of Saturday night games.
This year’s scheduling has been the best since my arrival in Dundee, without question.
Ownership and I had numerous discussions before the EIHL Fixture meeting in June to push for more Saturday nights.
Steve (Ward) did an excellent job at the Fixture meeting to ensure that we got our desire, so a big thanks to him for pushing this so well. Not just for me, but the players and you the fans too.
We have seen a direct correlation between larger crowds and Saturday night games.
At the end of the day when all is said and done, bigger crowds equates to hitting our budgeted numbers, so it was important that we got these Saturday’s secured.
Of course we are still very aware that we will be the team that travels the most, but we wanted to make sure we make it as balanced as possible.
As everyone knows, especially if you look back at the standings last year, every point matters in pursuit of that playoff berth.
So hopefully this more balanced schedule will give us a bit more of a competitive advantage.
As a result, I believe it will not only be better for our fans but also for the on ice product.
Throughout the summer we have been working hard and exploring different ideas for off ice entertainment, during games.
My plan is to make the team as exciting as possible on the ice. Though, off the ice I want every game to be an enjoyable overall experience.
I’ve had multiple people ask me about our plans for more themed games in the 19/20 season.
The answer is yes, we will have some again this year for sure, especially on the back of the success of the 80’s night last season.
Any avenue that can open up our brand to new people and get people talking about the Stars is a good thing.
I reiterate to many people that my number one focus is always on the ice. Though I know if we can be creative with the exposure of games, it can create more of a buzz going into the weekend.
The eventual aim of that transcending into the stands on game-day, I think that just adds to the overall spectacle.
We will hopefully have news soon regarding the dates for those nights, so keep an eye out on the website and social media outlets.
As a team, I am in the final stages of finalising contracts on a few players, I am really looking forward to finally finishing the squad.
I couldn’t be happier with the recruitment so far, which if the truth be told, essentially started in January.
I have been known to be very picky and I do extensive research on all players.
To be a Star, it is not only about being a good hockey player. It is also fitting in with our overall culture that we have created at the Club.
The Stars are a community based team, which all our players have to buy into. So this mantra forms a large part of my discussions with ALL players that I speak with, during the recruiting window.
At the start of recruitment, one of our main priorities was to push the University of Dundee for an extra place.
It took a lot of effort on both sides and we were finally able to solidify a 3rd player scholarship place, which helps me significantly with getting deals over the line.
The three players we have signed up for the University of Dundee scholarships for the 19-20 season are, Drydn Dow, Justin Maylan and Jagger Dirk.
They all received offers from other teams, but CHOSE to come to Dundee. Which is great news.
As of now, we have signed many guys with great pro-experience and some young guys starving for success.
What do I love about the team signed thus far?
Everyone knows I like to recruit speed and skill, with a youthful look to it.
We have that this season, with many of them entering the prime of their career.
We have also added a bit more toughness/grit on the back-end.
We have to be difficult to play against each night, and I want my D to not just be able to transition the puck well, but also to make the opposition forwards think twice coming into our zone.
Overall, I’m very happy with where we’re at presently.
Even if we are still a few weeks away from training camp, recruitment is still on going.
Great teams try to make sure they are always on the ball in the off-season and use all resources possible to recruit the team.
In retrospect, it can be extremely challenging, but as a Coach, it’s vital to get the right players.
Let me tell you this Stars fans , it certainly is a long process, but a very exciting one.
Some negotiations can last for weeks and months.
Kits, equipment, houses and other aspects of the club are all very much time consuming, but this aspect of the sport is a puzzle.
All we can do is make sure we evaluate all the options and sign the right players for our club.
Lastly, it is the best feeling when the player has signed on the dotted line!!
Nevertheless, I want everyone to feel as excited as I am.
So tomorrow, stay tuned for some feel good Friday news!!
We are only a matter of weeks away from our challenge weekend against the Odense Bulldogs from Denmark at The Dundee Ice Arena.
I know the players are looking forward to playing at the DIA, so let’s make sure we have big crowds on show to welcome the new and returning players properly.
The tickets have been selling fast so far which is great to see, so if you haven’t got yours, please do so soon and let’s get the season off on the right foot. Buy your tickets NOW!
Finally, I will have a full catch-up with Stephen Swann about the whole off-season and our expectations as a Club this upcoming season.
See you all soon,