League – 23
Challenge Cup – 1
Play Offs – 3
Total Goals: 7 / Total Assists: 10 / Total PIMs: 27
Started slowly but I think it was clearly evident that he wasn’t at match fitness and it had taken a while to properly get going. Watching him play it is clear why he spent so many seasons playing in the NHL, he’s got that little bit of magic where he can create something out of nothing, a little bit like David Ling. A must re-sign next season and build the team around him, while him, Perlini and Farmer have been good on the same line together this season. I think Stewart is always 1 or 2 steps ahead of them and by playing him alongside players that are more on his wavelength, I think you will start to see him hit the heights many expected him to hit when he signed.
If only we had Chris Stewart from the start of the season. Undoubtedly the most skilled player on this team by a mile and though it took him a while to get going due to his lack of match fitness he found chemistry with Perlini and Farmer towards the back end of the season. We should be doing everything we possibly can to sign him for 19/20 and build the team around him.
A HUGE late season signing, the fans had extremely high expectations of Stewart, too high in some cases. It was always going to take him time to find his feet again after not playing since his Calgary Flames tenure came to an end. He would also have to adjust to the league and his teammates, like all players do. Once he got going though he was terrific to watch. I hope he’s back next year, despite advancing in years, he’s a player the club can and should build a team around.
A mid-season pick-up, his extensive NHL resumé refreshed hopes that Panthers would finish the season strongly. Whilst the season fizzled out, this was no fault of Stewart’s who took his time, firstly to get into the right physical condition and then to get up to speed with the standard of British hockey. Early performances were extremely rusty, with fans wondering what the club had acquired, but the more we saw of Stewart the more he offered offensively – something that was desperately needed from the attack-shy Panthers. For him, the season probably ended in an untimely manner as he was beginning to reach somewhere near his peak. If back next season, something I wouldn’t be averse to, then I’d expect him to be one of the best forwards in the EIHL – but only if he maintains fitness, focus and is paired with forwards who compliment Stewart’s skilful offensive game.
I absolutely wasn’t sold on Chris Stewart when he first arrived, he was too big, he hadn’t played all season and he made mistakes that I didn’t find acceptable for a player of his calibre but I’ve been wrong before and so I was again. He was never a prolific goal scorer in the NHL so that wasn’t what we were going to get from him but one of his strengths is, well, strength! If Chris Stewart decides he’s holding on to the puck then good luck taking it off him, abandon all hope ye who enter the corners with him and he’s not a prolific checker but he can and I saw opposition players cough up the puck from the very threat of being on the end of a check from him.
If we’re lucky enough to have him on the roster next season then that’s a very solid base to build from.