Nottingham Panthers Director of Hockey Guillaume Doucet revealed one of his first phone calls was to Mark Matheson when the Elite Series was announced.
The 37-year-old defenceman is returning for the competition as Panthers announced the first of their import signings, with the experienced campaigner ready to come back to the blue line.
And Doucet says his experience, both in general and in playing for the club was one of the biggest attributes he was looking for.
“The way we played and the system was set up, he fitted right in. He had opportunities to go elsewhere, but remained hopeful we could get playing,” he told Nottingham Panthers website.
— The Nottingham Panthers | #2021EliteSeries (@PanthersIHC) March 15, 2021
“So, when the news broke that we would be taking part in this competition, he was one of my first phone calls and he was happy to come back.
“Mark has experience and knows the league well, so he knows what to expect. He’s going to be a big player for us. It’s a short season so there won’t be a period of adaptation when it comes to the arena and the surroundings.
“I think that’s huge for us and that was one thing I wanted, guys who know the league and the club so it’s something Mark really brings.”
Matheson spent part of this season in Romania with Erste Liga side Gyergyói HK, but played only a handful of games, but according to Doucet, his all round experience can help when the Series begins.
“He’s going to be a leader and I think these circumstances are going to be hard for anyone, but someone like Mark, with the experience of different leagues and atmospheres, should find it easier than those with less experience,” Doucet added.
“It’s going to be weird for everyone involved, but Mark is up for it and excited to be back. I didn’t want to twist anyone’s arms to come. I wanted import players to come here and be committed for five weeks.
“He’s certainly one of those and I’m happy to have Mark back.”
Nottingham Panthers will begin their Elite Series campaign against Sheffield Steelers on Saturday 3rd April at Motorpoint Arena, with all games to be played behind closed doors.