During his time with a variety of Scottish teams Scott Plews was known as a player who wouldn’t back down from a fight.
It’s a mentality that’s served him well since calling time on his playing career, particularly as he looked to build a life away from ice hockey.
Plews made his debut for Fife Flyers during the 1990/91 aged 14, before switching to Rocky Saganuik’s Murrayfield Racers in 1993.
During his time with the Racers Plews iced with Tony Hand, Chris Palmer and Richard Laplante, while he remembers gaining plenty of confidence from playing alongside rugged enforcer Mike Ware.
After a season playing with the newly-branded Edinburgh Racers, Plews had a brief spell with Telford Tigers before returning to Scotland with the Flyers.
He joined Doug Marsden’s Paisley in 1996 and remains full of admiration for his former Pirates boss.
“Doug was one of the nicest, yet toughest, most skilful and passionate players I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing alongside,” said Plews.
“He had his moments of madness, but he managed to get a team of people who played from the heart and played for him as well as for the jersey.
“A lot of Fifers played there and it was simply because of what they’d seen of him whilst in a Flyers jersey.
“Winning the Scottish Cup in Fife against the Flyers will stay with me forever. We were still celebrating on the ice long after the FIA had put the lights off – that’s how good it was for everyone.”
Marsden took over as Edinburgh Capitals’ boss in 1998 and Plews was quick to follow him. Although the team wasn’t successful he says it’s a move he doesn’t regret.
Plews eventually quit the professional game aged 23 having undergone some major upheaval in his personal life. He admits he found the change in circumstances difficult to cope with.
“I lost my father in an accident when I was 21 and became a father for the first time the day after his funeral,” said Plews.
“I felt it was time to get a ‘real job’ so I could support my family. I played a bit of beer league now and again to stay involved, but I really missed playing full-time.
“Back in 2005, I was 29 and on a cold, dark night in Scotland, I just couldn’t get out of my car to go and sell insurance.
“This was my livelihood and I just couldn’t do it. I never knew it back then, but I later realised and now understand that I was completely and utterly consumed by depression.
“Why? I had an amazing family, great pay and a nice home but I strangely felt, at that moment in time, that I was loneliest guy on earth. Nobody knew – no-one.
“I needed a change – I needed to do something that I enjoyed for a living. I sat for hours one night in my car, had a cry, gave myself a shake, and decided that something to do with ice hockey would make me happy.
“But what? I’ve always loved a good tilt on the ice, but I also knew that I had a different kind of fight on my hands to get me out of the position I was in.
“That night in my car, Gloves Off was born. For weeks upon weeks I would sit in my car instead of working and do sketches and slogans.
“I wanted to build a brand that was connected to ice hockey, but also had another meaning and it had to be a positive one too.”
Despite knowing he wanted to do something different, Plews couldn’t summon up the courage to start his own business and started work as a joiner.
After the loss of his father-in-law, marriage struggles, a second bout of serious depression and three operations on his back as a result of damage from his playing career, Plews made the decision to seek professional help.
“It’s something I’m now not ashamed to admit, ever,” said Plews. “My struggles were no different to anyone else’s – no more severe or any less either, they were just mine.
“By seeking help I was able to find the strength to take the plunge and set up Gloves Off. With help and support from my wife, Shirley, the company started trading in 2014 and my dream became a reality.”
In addition to trying to get the company off the ground, Plews has continued to work as a joiner for the local council but he hopes to reach a point where Gloves Off becomes his family’s main source of income.
He has found his way back into ice hockey, coaching the Fife Falcons U20 team and working as Assistant Coach with the Great Britain U16 side. Plews has also worked alongside Steven Lynch and Scott Neil with the Scotland U19 team.
The family name is also back on the ice, with Plews’ sons Tyler and Zander both making excellent progress in the game.
15-year-old Zander has iced for Fife at U16 and U20 level, while older brother Tyler spent last season with the Capitals in the Elite League.
The 18-year-old also came through the ranks at Fife, but Plews believes his son’s chances of making a name for himself will be enhanced by being part of the Capitals’ set-up.
“After speaking to Scotty Neil and also to Riley (Emmerson), I knew straight away that Tyler’s weaknesses would be worked on far more than staying at Fife.
“His strengths will be honed which will also come through Elite experience, which doesn’t necessarily mean playing.
“Fife are under too much pressure to succeed, which means the most talented juniors in the country don’t really get a chance at Elite level.
“I do see some of me in Tyler as a player, but it’s more of a style thing. I was far more laid back when it came to listening and as mentioned before I actually loved to scrap.
“I’ve made sure that Tyler must never show his ability to scrap until the time is right and the coach plays a part in that decision as well.
“I know it isn’t easy, but he has a good head on his shoulders and understands what’s going on around him. I look forward to watching him evolve this season.”