Last season's Elite League Player of the Year is back with the Devils for another season.
This title is for all of our fans, tonight is your night.
When we took over this club three years ago, we didn’t focus on how we had to do things different, we focused on how we had to do things right. Whatever happened in the past, it was the past and luckily for me and the 4 owners in Calgary, it wasn’t our past to worry about. We never looked behind us, we just wanted to do things our way, the right way.
We wanted to treat our players, staff and fans as our 3 greatest assets. That was the plan and we stuck to it. It feels good to win, it feels even better to win when you know we did it the right way.
So let’s celebrate the right way today. This title is about this team, this group of fans, this group of sponsors, this group of people looking after your team in the here and now.
Winning a championship is about the team that won, not the teams that didn’t win. It isn’t about tweeting the teams or the opposing fans who aren’t celebrating a title right now or rubbing it in the faces of the other teams in this league. Because although today is our day, I can promise you we won’t win every year although we will work as hard every season to try and win every title every year because that’s what we do.
But that’s what every team does and that is what makes sport so great. I have learned to be gracious in defeat, so when we do win, we need to be gracious champions as well.
To our respected opponents throughout the Elite League, we tip our hats to all of you. I have been involved in top level ice hockey in the UK for nearly 20 years as a player and a GM and this is the first year I would say that the Elite League is better than the Superleague. The glory years are not behind us, they are in the here and now and hopefully in front of all of us, not just in Cardiff but throughout the league.
A special mention must go to the Belfast Giants and Sheffield Steelers. The three of us have battled it out over the season and in particular, battled it out down the stretch. I have to say, the games between all of us have been epic battles. Both the Giants and Steelers have had incredible seasons and they should be very proud of their seasons so far. I have watched them on certain nights and wondered how we can compete with teams that good, so to be the league winners in a season like this is absolutely amazing.
I could talk about the players and staff and volunteers individually, but instead I will just say thank you for buying into the plan. Whether you are on the ice or off it every weekend, you all do your part to make us successful and we could never do it without all of you.
To the fans – our incredible red army of supporters who cheer us on week in and week out, this is your title. Some of you have waited 20 years, some have waited only a few months, but we love you all. Our arena is a fortress because of you. And one thing – I am as proud of what you all did to support Scott Matzka this season as I am about winning this title. Remember that when we are celebrating today.
Andrew Lord, you deserve this more than any of us. You work harder than all of us put together, you are diligent and you never ever fail to prepare this team. And when we need you most, you lead on the ice as well. No coach has a harder job than you and you did it, I am so very proud of you and happy beyond belief for you today.
To the 4 horsemen celebrating in Calgary, Canada right now (Kelly, Craig, Brian & Steve) - We did it. Thanks for dreaming big and making this crazy idea become a reality. We all believed in this from day one and today we can kick back and enjoy this one for a while.
Oh and Steve – thanks for picking up the phone in May 2014 when I called and said “I think I found our team..”