Haywood set for landmark weekend

Clan forward Matt Haywood is set to make his 500th Elite League appearance in all competitions – but admits his career path could have gone a different way because of Pete Russell.
The 28-year-old started out with five appearances for Sheffield Steelers, making his debut in October 2009 before joining what was Braehead Clan in 2010, where he has been ever since.
And he revealed a contract offer to go elsewhere from his current coach could have made things go differently.
“The move to Glasgow came in 2010 after I left Steelers, but I had been made an offer to go to Slough Jets in the EPL, by Pete Russell who was coaching there at the time,” Haywood said.
“It was between this or stay in the Elite League and play for Braehead and it was something I always wanted to do so after discussing it with my parents, that was what I did.
“I probably didn’t expect to still be here now when I look back, but I’ve always considered myself to be a loyal person and I’ve always been happy here.
“I don’t see any reason why I would go as the green isn’t always greener on the other side and I appreciate everything I have and what I’ve been given by the club.
“Now it’s given me so much more in a family and a whole new life.”
‘Woody’ will mark that 500th game on Saturday when Clan host Dundee Stars in the Elite League looking to build on victories either of New Year against Fife Flyers and the Stars.
He spoke of the coaches he worked with in that time and the different ideas they had that have helped him and his career along the way, plus revealed what advice he would have given his 17year old self before that first game almost a decade ago.
He added: “All the coaches I’ve worked have all had different ideas on the game.  In the first three years, there were all player-coaches.
“The difference was they were perhaps concentrating on their own game compared to what a bench coach does.
“Bruce (Richardson), Drew (Bannister), Jordan (Krestanovich) then Paul (Gardner) all had experience in the NHL so were teaching me little tricks of the trade and how to look after myself.  They taught me a lot.
“Ryan (Finnerty) knew me well having been in this league for a few years and was very supportive of me and my game and understood I don’t get a lot of points. I’ve been lucky to work under a lot of guys who appreciate what I do.
“If I could offer advice to my younger self 499 games ago, it would be to enjoy it.  It would be a bumpy ride and there will be ups and downs, but you’re playing hockey and it’s better than doing something you don’t enjoy.”

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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