The Glasgow Clan captain was picked up by former coach Ryan Finnerty as the 17th pick overall as all four Elite Series sides made their draft selection ahead of competition, which begins on 3rd April.
And he admits it will be strange to be donning the colours of Manchester Storm after so long in Clan purple, where he’s been for the last 10 years.
“After a decade wearing Clan purple, it’s going to be weird wearing Manchester’s black,” Haywood said. “It’ll be a nice little change and just for the five weeks to see if I’ve still got it. Come season time, I expect to be back in the purple again.
“Getting to play again has been a long time coming and it’s good the league did this draft. I’m thankful to be picked and it’s going to be a good fun filled five weeks ahead for us.
Matt Haywood pic.twitter.com/kEOPUyy6uz
— EIHL | #2021EliteSeries (@officialEIHL) March 8, 2021
“I didn’t find the draft too tense. If I didn’t get picked, then I would have been happy to stay at home with my family.
“My whole summer wasn’t riding on it, but now I get to play some hockey after a year out, which is what I’ve been desperate to do.”
Haywood’s last game was now a year ago as the coronavirus cancelled the rest of the season in 2019-20, but he’s glad to be alongside some familiar faces, with fellow draftees Craig Peacock and Ben Davies also joining the Storm.
However he did admit to missing the routine of playing as the year went on and wasn’t bothered who picked him.
“It’s been a bit of a teaser year,” Haywood added. “There was the off and on situation with the Elite League and whether it would go ahead. Then there was the NIHL going ahead, with the Streaming Series and now the Spring Cup.
DRAFTED | Head Coach Ryan Finnerty went with another familiar face during the draft, selecting Matt Haywood with the 17th pick. Another experienced forward from Glasgow, has 500 EIHL appearances and 197 points (76G 121A). Welcome, Matt! 🇬🇧⛈️#WeAreStorm | #2021EliteSeries pic.twitter.com/dAyVONVKQs
“I really started to miss playing when the Streaming Series, knowing a lot of the players who played. Thankfully I have this chance to play and with guys I know well.
“I thought ‘Finner’ drafted well and he’s brought in players who have all played together at some point in their career. I don’t think it would be too hard to get chemistry.
“Peaks and I have played together for so long, I knew Ciaran Long when I was younger, plus Ben Davies with was me at the Clan.
“I even played alongside Josh Batch for GB as well so it’s a group that all know each other in one way or another, which should be good.
“I didn’t have a preference in what team to go to as I was happy to leave it to the coaches to see if any of them would pick me. I just needed to know where I was going and I’m grateful for Finner and Manchester for the chance.”