Devils Seeking Smart Solutions

The Cardiff Devils have promised so much over the years but recently have come up short. A world-record winning streak now seems a world away as does their solitary piece of Elite League era silverware, the 2006 Challenge Cup. The Devils start to the season has done little to restore confidence.

The team has won just 3 of their opening 8 league fixtures and have only win at home in all competitions. Whilst seen as a poor start the Devils have not had the easiest start to the season. Having played last seasons runners up Belfast twice, the Sheffield Steelers away and made 3 long trips to Scotland already with an injured first choice netminder. Whether it was the manor of the big defeats on home ice to Belfast and away in Dundee and Sheffield or something more the Devils are making changes.

On Monday it was announced that veteran of the Welsh side Phil Hill had been sacked. The GB international was a curious player to single out for changes. Forward Hill had played in all 12 of the Devils opening matches and scored 9 points, tied for forth highest on the team. It is even more curious move when you consider potential replacements.

Craig Peacock had already made a scoring return to the Belfast Giants by the time Hill got the sack and the Ryan Watt who was released by the Slough Jets was never going to be a suitable candidate. It had been hinted that it could be a move to open a slot up Robert Farmer. The 22 year old Brit is currently in ECHL with Alaska and scored in his second preseason game. However with ECHL season not starting for another week it is very early to free up space in case someone is cut or decides to make a move.

19708909992_HDCJ3The axing of Phil Hill is even stranger following the announcement that coach Gerard Adams is to retire from playing duties to concentrate on his coaching duties. Aside from the Hill sacking the move by Adams to full time coach is a sensible one. Player coaches have been common in the EIHL as they a way of reducing budgets but have little success on the ice. Corey Neilson in Nottingham is perhaps the exception to that rule. However in the context of already being a player short to willingly put your team down another man seems a risky strategy especially with the inform Belfast Giants coming to Cardiff to play a midweek fixture.

There will be a continued speculation as to all the reasons for the movements including the influence of managing director and former player Brent Pope. Pope had been rumoured to be taking over from Adams as coach at the start of October that triggered a statement of confidence from owner Paul Ragan and this spiral of events.

It has not gone unnoticed that the Devils title sponsor is a company called Smart Solutions and at the moment the Devils do not appear to have taken their advice. Of course a win for the Devils tonight will go some way to forgetting this hole.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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