Humphreys: No regrets over Flames opt out

Guildford Flames opted out the Elite Series, but have no regrets about that decision (PHOTO: John Uwins)

Guildford Flames Chief Operating Officer Kirk Humphreys insists the club remain comfortable over their decision to sit out the Elite Series.

The government funding obtained by the English clubs, through Sport England, allowed all five to play, but Flames decided in January to exclude themselves, preferring to focus on a potential next season.

And Humphreys, speaking on this week’s BIH Show, admits while there’s definitely no regrets, he revealed their initial decision was based on another proposal.

“Seeing the tournament as it is now, we have no regrets over our decision,” he said. “It’s been an excellent competition, but we don’t spend time look back our ourselves and it’s all about next season for us.

“The event taking place is quite different from what we were evaluating in terms of returning to play.  If we go back to late October/early November, there was talk of a 12-week season from January to March to try and do that.

“We were all in on that.  We wanted to make that happen.  In retrospect, we hoped for something that was never going to happen, but that’s what we looked at.

Guildford coach Paul Dixon is already working towards next season (PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

“In early November, the case numbers were coming down and we were coming out of that first wave. It felt like things were starting to change and we took two to three weeks to look at all the different aspects, including health and the ramifications of bringing international players over.

“We took everything into account and got advice from an infectious diseases expert, people who would do testing.  In the end, we were being told it wouldn’t be the best way to go.

“The idea was to have as normal a season as possible, involving travelling to each other’s rinks so the reports were got told us it wasn’t something we could do comfortably or safely.

“We weren’t looking at the arrangement in Nottingham as it is now, in a semi-bubble, which makes it easier to control the variables.  We said no to what was a normal, but shortened season and we didn’t feel confident of achieving that.

“We didn’t even look at that as an option and we remain comfortable with the decision we made to opt out.  By the time this option came around, we were already focussing on next season and building towards that.”

Despite watching their counterparts make the most of their opportunity, Humphreys has enjoyed the action at the Motorpoint Arena and praised the team responsible for making it happen.

And he took the time to reflect on a challenging year for the club and spoke of how they had to adapt in the face of something quite unprecedented in the pandemic.

LISTEN NOW: The new edition of The BIH Show, featuring the full interview with Kirk Humphreys ONLY on the podcast version

“I’ve been watching the Elite Series and there’s been some interesting games,” he added. “The guys working behind the scenes have done a great job in putting it all together.  A lot of people will never know just what went into organising that.

“I can’t say enough about how good a job they did, including Todd Kelman from Cardiff, who’s helping to run things, Luke Fisher, from a media and marketing point of view and Mike Hicks, the league’s Director of Hockey, who have done a ton of things and they should be proud of themselves.

“Overall, it’s certainly been an unusual year.  I’ve been with the Flames in an administrative capacity for around 20 years now and we’ve certainly never experienced anything like this.

“We had some level of normality through the summer last year as we were building up to a season by signing players.  In retrospect, you think to yourself ‘what were we thinking?’

“We’ve really learned a lot about different kinds of things, being able to be in a position to get through this and get started when we can.  Not nearly as busy as we usually right now, but keep track on things to be in a position to begin when we’re ready to go.”

The full interview with Kirk Humphreys can be found on the latest edition of The BIH Show, but is only available as a podcast extra on the audio edition, which can be downloaded now on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Audioboom or any other podcast provider

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