Part 2 – Legends/Players

Here is part two of David Steadman’s four articles that he has written for The Cat’s Whiskers.
Part one is available here.

OK, if I’m lucky enough to have been asked to send in another piece then this should be on people’s screens now. Hopefully you enjoyed reading the last one, I do care but I’m not going to lose sleep if anyone doesn’t agree, we all have a belly button

This time I’m going to try and follow on a little from the end of the last one (please note that I have written all of these at the same time so any changes to our roster will not be referred to). There have been many players, ex-NHL or not, who have lit up the league, NIC and the old Stadium (I still miss that place and yes I have part of the furniture) and it would be hard enough for me to decide on my favourite player over the years, let alone be able to get anyone to agree with me. There has been talk of a retired shirts, an honour wall like Braehead (have they really been going long enough to have that?) or some other form of remembering players that have graced the ice for the Nottingham Panthers over the years.

From the current crop of players we have, Cam Janssen has obviously written his name on whatever wall, banner or stone tablet we use as a legend for us. He plays the game right, honest, on the edge. You have to be something special to be able to check that hard, that often and not get banned every other week. People seem to forget that this game is played on ice and with skates and most of us would have trouble just standing up (yes, I can skate and no, I don’t play) let alone, control the puck, see who’s coming or time a hit. Cam does miss on occasion but all you have to do is watch the opposing players when he’s skating towards them. It is fear in their eyes and they are not scared people, they play ice hockey for a living!

Recent others would possibly have to include Evan Mosey, it certainly will if he makes it into the show. David Ling is another who, in my opinion, is the best player I have seen over here and that includes any NHL lockout players. He certainly gets my vote for a place on the Panthers pedestal. Add to those two, Craig Kowalski who (you’ll get the idea but these are all just my opinions) I believe is the best netminder we have ever had in our colours. Going back just a little further we have the likes of Eric Werner who was a class act but I wouldn’t include him with the others. For defencemen I’d have to go back to Corey himself when he played (coupled with his coaching achievements), Gui Lepine obviously and Jordan Fox, but you can pretty much put him in whatever category you liked. Don’t get me wrong there have been a lot of good players along the way but these are the ones that really stand out. One thing that I have done before (sad I know) is to go through all of the numbers and see who springs to mind as your favourite for each and put the list together, it’s interesting to see who pops up, but anyway…

DAB is someone who has to be on there for me too, to be able to play the way he did with only one eye is just unbelievable. You may have noticed these are just imports, Brits I will come on to later. No doubt Jade Galbraith will divide opinion but he was without doubt one of the most gifted players to ever skate for us. Kevin Bergin, Johan Molin, Dan Tessier, PC Drouin, Kim Ahlroos, John Craighead, Mikko Koivunoro, Jimmy Paek, Barry Nieckar, Greg, Hadden, Graham Garden, Trevor Robins, Paul Adey, Darren ‘Doc’ Durdle, Mario Belanger, Terry Kurtenbach, Selmar Odelein, Dan Dorion, Robin Andrew, Jimmy Keyes, Fred Perlini, Mike Urquhart, Steve Salter (checking someone through the boards – priceless), Craig Melancon and Terry Gudziunas are all players that have in some way played a large part in my enjoyment of this wonderful sport.

These players have done something of note while I’ve been watching and that will usually mean a significant contribution to the team. Some of these will be ex-NHL or from quality leagues around the world and some won’t. For example, Selmar Odelain will be remembered for two punches, one while Mike Rowe was standing up and one while he was on the way to the ice. David Ling will be remembered for some unbelievable passing (as well as water skiing), Paul Adey came to us from France, arguably one of the best players we’ve ever had. Now before you start saying they were different times and we couldn’t attract ex-NHL players in that era, it’s all relative, some players come from top leagues and some don’t, they all have a part to play and some are better at it than others, some are more suited to the British game than others, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have come from a better background. If we can start to attract the likes of Gui Lepine and Evan Mosey who have a chance (however slim) to play in the best leagues then this can only be good for Nottingham and the league in general. Dan Tessier touched the AHL, Jade glanced past the DEL, Eric Werner came in via Italy but had touches of AHL and DEL on his CV. What I’m trying to get to is that what we need is a team. We had one last year, not the previous two years and then obviously the year before we did. All of the players need to play a part, if they don’t then they need to move on very quickly but, when they do, we can achieve great things and people like Evan Mosey can go on to bigger and better things that we or they may not have even thought possible.

In the same vein, the Brits that we’ve had over the years have either been instrumental in bringing the silverware to our cabinet, played their part or quite honestly have been making up the numbers. David Clarke, Steve Lee, Matthew Myers and Robert Lachowicz are all part of our success. Jonathan Weaver played his part in the title winning season, Marc Levers was an excellent servant to the club. Whereas I would probably only put David Clarke in the group of club legends, every one of them has worked hard to get us where we are today. Just to include some particular favourites from the past on the British front, here are some that I have fond memories of for various reasons. The skill level the further you go back dwindles slightly but as before they have all played a part in my enjoyment. Mark Richardson (wish we could have kept him), Ashley Tait, Stephen Cooper, Simon Hunt, Randal Weber, Graham Waghorn, Chris Keward, Dwayne Keward, David Graham, Nigel Rhodes, Gavin Fraser, John Bremner, Russ Timmins, Frank Killen and Mark Kasun.

All of the above along with all of the ones I haven’t mentioned have been lucky enough to play this game and hopefully make a living doing so. It won’t last for long but it’s more than just a hobby and don’t forget, these people don’t get paid anything like footballers and have to put in a great deal more effort to just be able to step onto the ice. All of our players deserve credit for putting in the effort and trying for us (with the exception of Joe Grimaldi) and as fans we need to realise what they do. I played sport for fun but no one wanted to win more than me. The people I played with probably wouldn’t know but if I scored two or three goals in a game, I’d still be going home thinking about the things I did wrong. Some of these players will be like this, some won’t but we really don’t know. My opinion is that you can hide at times on a football field or hockey pitch but, you can’t hide on the ice. If you take it easy someone skates right past, if you’re not paying attention, you will get nailed and hard.

I’ll stop this one now and hope I haven’t bored you too much, fingers crossed for part three!

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