WHY PACHA DESERVES A LOT OF LOVE
Watching the post game interview with Dundee Stars coach Omar Pacha on Saturday, he broke out into a wide smile as he reflected on his side’s 3-0 win over Fife Flyers.
I must admit, I did as well.
Since Omar came to the UK, first signing for Sylvain Cloutier at Hull Stingrays in 2013, he’s someone who’s proved himself when it comes to getting the best out of so-called lower budget teams.
This is a guy who got Hull to the play-off weekend in his first season as coach, which proved to be their final act as an Elite League team, where they were replaced by Manchester Storm.
He was handed the reins there and did well, despite missing out the play-offs in his first year, but managed to do it in his second season, showing the effect and improvement he made on the team.
When he moved on, many regarded it as bad luck as Ryan Finnerty took over, but a chance to stay in the Elite League shined when Marc LeFebvre vacated the Dundee hotseat in mid-summer, throwing open another chance for Pacha.
A disappointing first season followed as injuries hit them badly and he admits himself it was unlike anything he’d ever experienced before. They were still in the play-off hunt in the final weeks of the campaign, but it wasn’t to be.
Now, with his team as opposed to a lot of LeFebvre’s signings that he inherited the year before, it was a fresh start and his work had earned the trust of the club’s management, who extended his deal.
Seeing him try to explain loss after loss, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. The defeat’s hurt and every one, as they accumulated, was like another dagger into his body.
He threatened changes to the team a fortnight ago after they capitulated in a 6-1 loss to Sheffield Steelers. This week, his smile was as wide as the Tay after masterminding two big wins over Fife Flyers.
Winning 3-0 at home on Saturday, then coming from three down to take both points on penalty shots in Fife on Sunday, he’s got every right to enjoy this weekend.
The one thing you can say without any doubt is that Omar cares. He loves Dundee, he loves the people and loves the club. He wants to succeed there. No question.
That’s why the enjoyment on his face was visible. He hasn’t had a lot of luck in results this season – bear in mind Dundee had won only once in 15 prior to Saturday – so he deserves to enjoy it.
Even in the bad run, there hasn’t been a clamour for him to go, which shows how highly he’s thought of by the Stars fans, those who believe in what he’s doing. Perhaps something of a lesson fans of other clubs could learn when it comes to patience.
There’s not guarantee it’s going to start a huge surge up the table, but it gives them a foundation and something to build on. Something they haven’t had thus far.
Taking on Belfast Giants on Wednesday in the Challenge Cup presents a different challenge of course, but now there are grounds to go in with a positive frame of mind.
As for Omar, he’ll enjoying going into his work this morning more than most weeks. And rightfully so.
We’re a third into the season and we’re at the point when coaches around the Elite League will look at their teams and decide if they’re completely happy or not with their team.
Some started early because of their poor form in the opening weeks, others are keeping their powder dry and as outside observers, it’s always fascinating to see just how they make the change they hope can give them a boost.
Sometimes it works, other times, it doesn’t have the desired effect. It’s a gamble and while we can all be great coaches in our heads over why your favourite has been moved on, there will be circumstances they will consider about the reasons why they’ve to leave that we mere mortals don’t even think of.
It’s interesting times ahead and speaking to coaches and GMs at this time of year, some have regretted not making the right moves at this time of year. Will they pounce this time? We’ll have to see.
KIRK REACHING FOR THE STARS IN HIS TREK
What a week for Liam Kirk over at Peterborough Petes! After a drought of nearly two months and 20 games, he comes up with five goals in a three-game winning weekend.
He’s taken his time settling on over there, but it came good for him as he takes his tally to 14 points for the campaign so far.
Let’s hope for more of the same from him as he keeps going in his quest to reach the NHL.