Martin leaves Cardiff – but it’s not goodbye

Joey Martin has moved to Stavanger Oilers, but insists it's not a permanent exit from Cardiff (PHOTO: James Assinder)

Cardiff Devils managing director Todd Kelman insists captain Joey Martin’s move to Norwegian side Stavanger Oilers is not a permanent departure.

The 32-year-old has taken up an opportunity to play in Norway as uncertainty continues to envelop the Elite League and whether the 2020/21 season will begin.

But Kelman explained that players that have signed for the Devils have been given the option to seek other moves as long as the EIHL remains inactive.

“Joey Martin deserves more than a simple press release but we are not treating this as a departure from the club and neither is he,” Kelman said.  “This is a year out due to this pandemic and Joey is on a two-year deal so he intends to be back with us for the 2021-22 season.

“I actually wrote to all our guys just over a week ago.  Not just the guys we have already signed but the guys we were intending to bring back if the 2020/21 season was starting on time.

“I explained that the Elite League board are working very hard to try and start in December but we are at the mercy of government regulations relating to indoor events with crowds.

“I told all of them that if they want to look around for jobs in other leagues that have confirmed they are going ahead before our league, then we would support them in their decision and would help them with references or finding agents.”

Todd Kelman revealed players have have been told to explore opportunities elsewhere while uncertainty continues over the EIHL season (PHOTO: Ice Time TV)

For Martin himself, he outlined the choices he had to make as he weighed up his options and revealed why Stavanger was the right one for him.

He added: “Everyone knows I love this team and this city.  It’s become home for me and I intended to be back for 2020-21 but I need to play and I had to weigh up moving to a league that is set to start in October or waiting it out with the hope of the EIHL starting in December.

“I want the fans to know how well all of us have been treated throughout this process by the owners, by Todd and by Andrew Lord.

“I don’t think we would have considered looking around without them giving us the heads up to do so.  I really respect the fact that in these crazy times they still put the players first.

“The opportunity to play for a great club like Stavanger for a season really excites me. They are in the Champions League this season, which is going to be a fantastic experience and they are known to treat their players very well and run a first-class organisation, which sounds similar to what I have had in Cardiff.

Martin’s temporary exit will add fuel to the fire that the league will not re-start at any point this season because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has changed a lot of sport this year.

Kelman addressed the situation and insists they’re still working towards a December start, but concedes the deadline to being preparations is near.

He said: “I want our fans and the fans around the league to know that the Elite League teams are doing everything we possibly can behind the scenes to get the season started.

“We’re speaking to the right people in government, we have a return to play plan but no matter what, we are at the mercy of government decisions on indoor events.

“We all want to play starting in December but our deadline to proceed is creeping up on us.

“I am pretty certain every team have had similar conversations with their players, whether they have announced guys or they have just signed guys but not made it official, Nobody wants to see guys out of work.

“If that means we lose some players now before we know the fate of our own league, well, we still feel that morally it is the right thing to do.

“There are teams in this league, including us, that are exploring options if we have to start later than December whether that means starting in January or February and playing into May or June, we will pursue every opportunity to have hockey in Cardiff at some point over the next few months.”

British Ice Hockey understands no decision has been made regarding whether or not there will be a new campaign at all.

However it is believed there’s a split with some teams keen to start on a new season, with others less so because of the ongoing situation.

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