The Monday After: Finding the right formula

The heat is on Glasgow Clan coach Zack Fitzgerald (PHOTO: Al Goold)

Finding the right formula

There comes a breaking point for fans where they tolerate so much and one game rips them over the edge. That game came for Glasgow Clan fans on Saturday.

A 5-2 loss in a contest that saw at least one Belfast Giants player in the penalty box for 13 minutes  in the first period, from which Clan failed to convert any chances they had, a 98 second collapse that saw the Giants rattle in four goals in that time. The Purple Army were left in a rage.

It’s got to that point where enough seems to be enough and if my social media timelines weren’t full of Fife fans, also upset over the direction they’re going in, then it was Clan fans snapping.

I’m someone who works for the club, but I’m also a fan and watching and commentating on the games haven’t been so much fun recently.  It’s frustrating when you know the players that you know can deliver aren’t for whatever reason.

Some of the fans are comparing this season under Zack Fitzgerald to the disastrous campaign under John Tripp just two years ago.  If given the choice, I know who I’d rather trust to get the club out of the situation it finds itself in.

I spoke with Bob Westerdale, the Sheffield Star journalist last month for the Clan podcast and one quote he said really leapt out at me when talking about Zack Fitzgerald, Glasgow’s coach.

Bob said: “Zack is the kind person you run through a wall for.  If you played with him, he’d run through a wall for you.  If you can’t rise to play for him, you should go and play somewhere else.”

He knows Fitzgerald well from the latter’s time in Sheffield and spoke warmly of him, something a lot of people do because of the character he is off the ice.  He cared when the team lost as a player and he’s hurting, arguably more, as a coach.

Clan’s latest defeat, a 5-2 loss at home to Belfast Giants on Saturday, left the fans upset (PHOTO: Al Goold)

In many respects, the way Clan’s season has spiralled could be put down to a number of factors.  Knowing Fitzgerald, he’ll have made mistakes and will be the first to own up to them.  It’s in no way a criticism of him.  He’s a rookie coach in his first season and it’s bound to happen.  That’s a fact.

Injuries to key players have been another issue and it’s been ongoing all season where Clan have missed as many as three or four players a night.  How can any team sustain that over a long period of time?

I’m also sure there are players in the group honest enough to hold their hands up and admit they haven’t been on top of their game either.  

But the stats speak for themselves.  Since the record equalling eight-game winning run ended in mid-October, they’ve played 31 games, won ten and drawn one of them.

It’s only been one regulation time victory in the last 18 games, with only three more wins to add in that run.

It goes without saying Fitzy knows he has to find that winning formula soon and if he wants to make any personnel changes, pending approval, he has just under a month to do it.

So if anyone connected with the Clan is under any illusion that everyone at the club is happy or content with the situation they find themselves in, think again.  

It’s a testing time for Fitzgerald or any coach in this situation with the games running out.  No-one knows the severity of the issue more than they do.

Cardiff Devils had held Pride nights in the past, but this weekend sees the entire league come together to deliver one unifying message (PHOTO: Cardiff Devils)

Beaming with Pride

This weekend sees the Elite League stage their first “You Can Play” weekend in support of the LGBTQ+ community, sending one unified message that hockey is, indeed, for everyone.

It was an idea put forward by myself and my former colleague, Rob McGregor during our time working with league on their media and I, for one, am pleased to see it come to fruition at last.

The specially designed jerseys are looking fantastic as each club releases them ahead of the big weekend.  Some clubs gone on board with this in the last few weeks as a way of helping spread that important message and the league taking it in collectively shouldn’t be understated.

No matter where you go this week, enjoy yourself, get into the spirit of it all and help make what looks to be a special weekend even better.

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