Smailes Goldie Hull Pirates MD, Shane Smith, admits that he is surprised by his team’s recent run of results. ‘We built a team to win silverware in the National League but I recognise that it is not going to plan and changes are needed, now!’
After the Pirates’ fourth loss in a row, Shane understands fans’ criticism.
‘Having put so much money and energy into this club, yes it is hard to take. Right now, me, the boys in the dressing and Jason are hurting.’
However, Shane warns that the criticism has to be respectful and hopes that it is proportional.
‘I have repeated on numerous occasions that I have a legal duty of care to protect my players so supporters must maintain an appropriate level of respect if they feel minded to criticise any of my squad. I totally understand why some fans will criticise us. However, my view has always been that Hull is a family club. Families should pull together when the going gets tough.’
Losing to the Steeldogs in particular was a hard loss to swallow for the Pirates’ MD.
‘It might sound odd to some but I was proud of my team on Sunday, despite the loss. Lots of players such as Gent and my own son, Aaron, stepped up and acquitted themselves well. The third line worked their socks off too. But fans should know that before the faceoff, we lost Matty to injury and Bobby to an unexpected four match ban, of which we were only notified of on Friday. Add in the injury to Chilly and that is a loss of too many key players. No team in this league could sustain that level of loss without a dramatic effect upon performance.’
The factors hampering the Pirates’ doesn’t stop there. ‘I know fans will think that this is an excuse but the changing room after the game was like a war-zone with players receiving treatment for over an hour after the final whistle. Going into Sunday’s game, we already had the likes of Lee Haywood and Tom Stubley nursing injuries and Marcus just returning. Ash then picked up a bizarre injury when he collided with an official while skating to the bench.’
The intensity of the National League has not surprised Shane, who anticipated how tight each game would be but the level of attrition within his squad is something he has rarely experienced in his many years of ice hockey. The need for reinforcement and changes is evident. Both Shane and Jason are now plotting a response to the current position.
‘This is not a crisis but I know we need to bring additional bodies into the squad. Jason and I are looking at some options in defence and the possibility of recruiting either a British player or dual national. We don’t just need numbers in defence but some muscle too. I think we really need to beef up there. Could we have done that before the season started…to be fair, it is easier said than done with so many quality British defenders being snapped up early.’
While Shane will not criticise his players’ efforts in the 6-7 loss to Sheffield, he recognises that additional bodies are also required in attack. ‘We are looking at our style of play from the back to the front. In attack, I know what Jason wants and we are looking for players that can provide that.’
In a particularly heartfelt message to the fans, Shane asked them to remain faithful to the treble winning Pirates. ‘It is difficult for us all but I assure the fans that I am acting on the position we find ourselves in. Jason is working hard on recruitment of additional bodies.’ He added, ‘Last year proved to the fans how much hunger I have for winning. Like Jason, I don’t like the position we are in, so I am acting swiftly to reinforce his squad amid the many injuries. Trust me we will recover. No matter what people say, Hull is still the side most teams fear and they will have good reason to once our restructuring is complete.’