Former Belfast Giants player-coach Derrick Walser reckons the club couldn’t have found a better replacement for him than Adam Keefe.
Keefe is putting the finishing touches to his team ahead of his first ever season behind the bench after hanging up his captain’s armband.
And Walser, who spent two years at the club before leaving this summer reckons his successor has filled in the gaps he was looking to plug had he stayed on.
“Adam’s fixed the holes I thought we had last year and I think they’re going to be very strong,” he said.
“I would have liked another year there, but it’s time for Adam. I couldn’t be happier for the guy and he deserves everything he gets on and off the ice.
“He’s a leader and he’ll make changes. I believe he’ll do a really good job there and will put his heart and soul into this job.
“Believe me, they’re not going to find anyone better behind that bench and the players had better provide Adam with all their assets.
“I think they’ll be in the top three for sure and it will come down to that division and the least amount of injuries. Staying healthy could be the key to success for Belfast.”
Walser was speaking in the week he announced his own retirement as a player as he looks ahead to his new role as assistant coach at OHL side Peterborough Petes.
He discussed what led to his own decision and paid tribute to Chris Higgins, who played under him at the Giants, who also announced his decision to hang up his skates this week.
Walser added: “The physical toll on my body played a big part of my decision. I knew I had lost a step in my game and knew I wasn’t the same as before.
“Doing the two roles of player and a coach was very tough and I was called upon to play a lot of minutes. Plus I hadn’t been happy with my game.
“I just couldn’t keep up and I was losing the desire to train and work hard as a 40-year-old. You don’t recover as quick as you did.
“Now I’ve retired, I’m happy I’ve made that decision and looking ahead to the challenge ahead.
“As for Higgs, he was an unbelievable talent as well as a great guy and was unlucky with injuries as first, but when he was healthy, he was dangerous.
“He’s dynamic and dangerous, but there comes a point where you can only play for so long. I’m glad for him because he’s had a good run and he’s made a smart decision.”
Photo: Press Eye