Ice Hockey: More defections pile pressure on Capitals
Beleaguered Edinburgh Capitals' boss Scott Neil was considering his options today after being rocked by two more defections from his ice hockey squad.
Defenceman Evan Schafer, a former Florida Panthers draft pick, will fly back to North America on Saturday and highly-rated netminder, Scott Reid, is also set to quit the crisis club, who prop up the ten-strong Elite League.
They follow a mass walkout of foreign players and coach Brad Gratton since the start of the season. Daniel Madsen was first to go followed by much-travelled Alex Kim, Chris St Jacques, the club's top points scorer, and David Lomas.
Last week, Adam Taylor, the club's top goal-scorer, walked along with leading defenceman Jacques Perreault.
That leaves three - skipper Martin Cingel, Jeff Hutchins and Nick Fanto - of the 11 imported players who started the season.
Capitals face a daunting away double-header this weekend starting on Saturday at title-chasing Sheffield Steelers, who whipped them 9-0 in Edinburgh last Sunday, and at mid-table Hull Stingrays on Sunday.
So, what options does Neil have? Very few. The former Murrayfield Racers and Sheffield Steelers star has to be commended for maintaining top-flight ice hockey in the Capital on a shoestring budget for so long.
The Edinburgh side were the only Scottish entrants in Britain's top league until this season when Dundee CCS Stars and then Braehead Clan announced they were forming teams. Neil saw the rivalries between the two clubs as beneficial to Capitals. Sadly, his fortunes have declined despite the participation of the rookies which he hoped would bring sizeable amounts of fans with them.
Neil signed ex-Capitals player Scott McKenzie on a two-way contract from English Premier League team Telford Tigers last Saturday then borrowed forward Nathan Salem from Newcastle Vipers at Whitley Bay last Saturday night to play against his own team-mates and he recruited two players from Scottish National League side, Kilmarnock, Alan Maitland and Scott Cowan, for last Sunday's joust against Sheffield.
Defiant Neil says the club is potentially looking at other players who can be utilised on two-way contracts but many will question if that is the way to go. It will be interesting to see how long Elite League bosses let this uneven struggle continue.
The Elite League, meanwhile, have brokered a deal to help cash-strapped Newcastle Vipers but there is no word of any assistance for Capitals.
News of the agreement to keep the Tyneside team playing until the end of the season was confirmed on the Elite League's website last night.
Vipers' general manager, Jamie Longmuir, statement read: "I am delighted that following yesterday's Elite League Board Meeting we were able to agree measures which will allow the club to honour the remainder of the 2010/11 season."
• CAPITALS will hold a Fans' Forum on Wednesday, January 19, in the Riversdale Suite at Murrayfield.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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