Dutiaume admits relief and frustration over league shutdown

Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume has spoken about the difficulties in recruiting during the coronavirus (PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume has admitted he initially felt relief when the season ended – but it was quickly replaced with frustration.

The Flyers were bottom of the table and still battling for a play-off place with a handful of games to go when the campaign was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But he soon got the nagging feeling of unfinished business when he reflected on the decision to end 2019/20 abruptly.

“I’d be lying if I said the initial reaction to seeing the season wasn’t relief,” Dutiaume told Ali McLaren in an interview for Fife Flyers. “It quickly turned to frustration because never in my life have I seen a season cancelled.

“So not being able to have that closure, no matter what that closure looked like, left things unfinished and speaking to the some of the guys, they would have liked that closure as well.

“It’s nice to have that, whether you finish high or low and in the past, you could take a deep breath and get right back to work, but that hasn’t happened this year.

WATCH NOW: Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume speaking to Flyers TV

“The day of the lockdown, we were on a bus going to Coventry and I’m not sure everybody recognised the scale of it and how it accelerated quickly.

“Fortunately, the league made the decision quickly and luckily we were only on the other side of the Forth when we got to call to turn round and come home.

“It didn’t sink in until we started to get the guys back home and we had to act quickly because of the situation with the airports.”

Dutiaume also discussed recruitment and revealed he has spoken to certain players about a possible return.

But he admitted so many uncertainties have made it difficult to make any real progress on that front as he highlighted the sort of issues he and the other Elite League clubs are dealing with.

Todd Dutiaume has been at Fife Flyers for over 20 years (PHOTO: Karl Denham)

He added: “Recruiting is going on right now and it’s something that’s a continual presence.  It probably stopped for a month and a half from when we shut down because there were more important things to prioritise.

“As far as speaking to guys go and getting an idea of what they’re looking to do, that’s been ongoing, but there are a lot of variables that come into play.

“We don’t have a start date and I understand they (the Elite League) are looking at a number of different scenarios, but until we know how long the season will last and how many home games we have, it would be difficult to sign contracts.

“There are guys out to get some assurances for next season, but things are still ongoing.  Some guys are very reluctant to come into this situation and an example was given that what if someone  in our team becomes gets infected and puts everyone at risk, team-mates, fans, volunteers.

“Also the thought of being cut off from family if it escalates again is another thing.  Hockey players generally know going into a season they’ll get 30 to 33 weeks.  We don’t know if it’s going to be compressed and that will, of course, have an impact on their wage.

“But there are guys willing to sign.  Employment is important, particularly when we come out of this so it’s very uncertain times.  But you would be hard pressed to be reassured there would be a hockey season next year.”

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