From pregame to the final whistle, here's everything you need to know about Saturday's classic game
I know a lot of you out there are worried about the team, players leaving, uncertainty about the season or even the future of the Devils.
So I am asking you all to just breathe… and remember that we aren’t panicking, so neither should you.
Players leaving right now seems like a big deal, but put it in perspective. We are in the middle of a pandemic and our league is in limbo of when we can start. Nobody knows what the 2020-21 season is going to look like here in the UK or around Europe or even in North America.
Owners at their first ever Devils game back in 2014 at the BBT
If guys have opportunities in leagues that have already been given the green light to play from their governments, then why wouldn’t they take that opportunity to earn a salary for a season instead of waiting and hoping on what may or may not happen here in the UK?
Of the players that have departed, 3 of them are on contracts already for next season – Joey Martin, Mark Richardson and Sam Duggan. Evan Mosey has already asked about signing for next season and Fournier will be one of our first phone calls next off-season to see what his plans are.
The first lap at the BBT
Players love playing here, that is why we keep having guys back every season. Bringing the majority of guys back each season is OUR CHOICE, not a LACK OF CHOICE of players that want to play in Cardiff. Remember that. The players I mentioned above have all been part of the culture we have built here in Cardiff over the last 6 years and they want to be back.
Building a team is the fun part and over my 13 years of doing this for 2 great teams, I have had years where we have brought back nearly our entire squad and others where we were looking for a ton of new guys to build a team. At times we have made decisions not to bring back great players that we loved because we have always felt we had to have one eye on the future of where the team would be 3 years from now. Having a long term approach means we have to be constantly evolving and improving, so a great player that fits this season might not fit a year from now.
Owners lifting the Challenge Cup in 2017
I can assure you that the talent pool for professional hockey players is absolutely huge. Think about it this way – if we are looking for a top line left winger, we probably have 100+ potential players to look through that could easily take that position. They come in from agents, our own connections, their former coaches, teammates, etc. Our job is finding the one that fits into our team with the right skillset, the right attitude, at the right price and the right kind of person for our culture.
There’s that word again… Culture.
Postgame Bownsy wave at home
You might say we been very lucky here in Cardiff that we have usually had the majority of players returning each season. But it isn’t luck. It is because we have built a culture of respect and winning in Cardiff that wasn’t here for a long time.
The culture didn’t change because we started having on ice success. No, no, no… We started having on ice success because we changed the culture.
A pre-game Q & A with the Owners
So I am asking you all to just breathe… and stick with us. Trust in the process of change and trust in the fact that we know what we are doing, we know how to build championship teams and most importantly we are committed to Cardiff for the long term.
The players that pull on the Devils jersey become our heroes for 1 or 3 or 6 or 10 years, but they all eventually leave. That jersey, this team remain. The culture we have built will continue to attract great players to become our next set of heroes for all of us to cheer for, I promise you that.
Pre-game puck drop with all 4 Owners on home ice
This club unites us all and the last 6 years have been incredible for all of us. I am sure you recognise by now that we share the same passion and love for the Cardiff Devils that you all do. This is far more than a business venture and always has been, so if you read this whole thing, all you really need to know is this…
We aren’t going anywhere and we hope neither are you.
(on behalf of Management and Ownership of the Cardiff Devils)