First off I wanted to apologize for the length of time it has taken me to get round to a new blog post. I must admit the hockey off season is not the best for producing long/witty and thought provoking pieces! But what the hell let's give it a go!
Before we launch right into it, I must bring your attention to a new Phoenix Blog written by a good friend of The Angry Budgie: Gemma Howarths hockey blog. Go take a look, it offers another perspective on all things hockey and Phoenix related!
Anyway to this blog post, so far the Phoenix have taken a very sedate route to announcing their signings. In stark contrast to our friends from over t'hills the Steeldogs. Who, after only a couple of weeks, had announced pretty much their entire roster! Including a few of the Phoenix title winning squad in Greg Wood, Ben Morgan and Pavel Gomeniuk. I guess being a Phoenix fan, while looking at this offseason, it would be rude not to start here!
Steeldogs Bite the Phoenix wings:
Early on I remember rumors regarding certain members of the Phoenix roster moving over to Sheffield appearing, initially I shrugged them off thinking, why move from a title winning side to Sheffield? It was at this time that silly rumors started flying around, some saying half of the Phoenix roster was on the move. That one was a little silly! As the week's passed it become more obvious that Woody, Morgs and Pasha were on the move. When it was later confirmed by the Steeldogs I was gutted, really gutted. But then, when a level head returned, I quickly turned to the well know status of 'Meh'! Of the three im only really sorry to see Ben Morgan go. Decent British defensemen are a) hard to come by and b) expensive! Pasha well, was brilliant on the Phoenix blue line, and I loved his booming slapshot from the blue line. But he is an import defenseman, plenty of those available. Plus, if we are to be cheeky, of the Ladzi/Pasha pair, i'd much prefer to hold onto Ladzi! A move to Sheffield also makes sense for Pasha, he signed for them last summer before the Scimitar's problems and, living in Hull, the Steeldogs are a better fit for him. Anyway I digress! So to Greg Wood, a feisty little player who spent most of his time on the third line with the Phoenix. Not sad to see him go really, as he never really consistently produced the goods on the ice. He had a good start to the 10/11 season, went off the boil and then only picked up again during March! The main surprise with this departure is, Greg is to be made the Steeldogs captain! He's a good player, but captain material? I guess the same could have been said for Luke Boothroyd before he was made Phoenix captain!
The Great One Returns:
Well this had to be the most ridiculous rumor of the summer. Sir Tony of Hand was off to Fife to coach them during their debut EIHL season. So many people on twitter and THF decided this was a done deal and, despite evidence to the contrary, and took great delight in belittling myself and other Phoenix fans for believing otherwise. All this despite Tony entering the final year of his contract and making no noises at all about departing the Phoenix. So you can imagine how big my smile was when the Phoenix and Tony Hand announced a new 3 year contract for the great one, keeping him in Altrincham until 2015:
Out of the gloom, a chink of light:
Prior to Tony Hand's announcement above, all the Phoenix had to dine on were rumors of players leaving. First it was Marcus getting unsettled as no contact had been made from the Phoenix. Then it looked like Huppe was on his way to the Flames. Needless to say alarm bells were ringing amongst the Phoenix faithful. I tried to look at it in a different way, yes I would be gutted if Huppe/Kristoffersson left, but I was comforted by the fact that, every season we see top imports leave, only to have them replaced by equally good imports! I think back to Molin/Tallari/D Beauregard/Hagelberg all fan favorites, all have left, all have been replaced! I am confident this year will be no different! So, gloom dominated the early offseason for Phoenix fans, until the Tony Hand announcement we had nothing to celebrate. Until the 10th May when the re-signing of Tom Duggan and the signing of Slava Koulikov from the Slough Jets. What a way to start the roster building! Sign up a fan favorite and one of the standout Brits from 10/11 and one of the best British forwards in the EPL. I'm over the moon Duggy is back, he provides so much grit/determination and effort on the ice, he alone can lift his linemates. Koulikov is a player I have admired on the ice, very skillful and will fit in perfectly on the second or first line depending on the makeup of the full roster.