It has been a summer of changes for Glasgow Clan but as they prepare to begin their EIHL season this weekend, head coach Pete Russell is optimistic it won’t be too long before the tweaks and adjustments begin to bear fruit.
The most obvious change to the club has been the name switch from Braehead Clan to Glasgow Clan but with a raft of new signings, as well as Russell replacing John Tripp as head coach, there has been much bedding in to do over the past few months.
And the Glasgow side will have to hit the ground running, with their opening match of the 2018/19 EIHL on Sunday seeing them face Manchester Storm, who finished in second place in the league last season.
Russell has already had the opportunity to assess his team in the competitive arena, with the Challenge Cup beginning last weekend in which the Clan fell to two narrow victories to Fife Flyers and to Dundee Stars. It was a disappointing brace of results for Russell but there were, he believes, a number of positives to take into the EIHL opener on Sunday, which follows on from the third Challenge Cup game of the season, against Belfast Giants.
“It’s still early days – it’s a new team and it’s new for me as well but I think every game we’ve played so far, we’ve been right in it and that’s a positive thing at this time of year.”
As with every team when there has been a number of new signings, it can take some time for the players to integrate into the team. But Russell is pleased with what he has seen so far and was particularly encouraged by the fighting spirit the team seems to have developed already, which was evident in their loss to Fife which came only in penalty shots.
“I like the team. We’ve got a lot of good players and the blend is good,” he said.
“It’s a challenge getting the players to gel and settle in. That’s where the inconsistencies come from – they don’t really know each other yet and they’re coming into different philosophies. But you can see a really good camaraderie developing.
“Once we get everything going and we get everyone settled, I think we’ll be an exciting team to watch.
Russell and his charges have a tough few weeks ahead, with their opening five EIHL games all being away fixtures. But that has not dampened the Scot’s ambitions and with the team having missed out on the play-offs last year, Russell is in no doubt as to what his immediate targets are.
“The first thing is we have to get back in the play-offs hunt,” the Glaswegian said.
“And we’ve got to try to catch Fife – they’re the team in Scotland at the moment. Dundee are a good team as well and we want to be the best team in Scotland again, that’s important. So we’ll work towards that.”
Last season, the team proved they had the quality to compete with every team in the league but a lack of consistency was their downfall. However, Russell has a clear idea in his mind of what kind of team he wants to develop and that will, he hopes, translate into a strong league showing.
“Everything revolves around results and people want results straight away but it’s not easy to get a win every night,” he said.
“We want to be a blue-collar team who play hard and aggressive for each other.”
Russell has considerable experience in management having coached a number of club sides, as well as being GB head coach. But he admits this role at Glasgow Clan has been a significant change for him too and while the home fans will have lofty expectations, he is relishing the challenge.
“This has been a massive change for me,” he said.
“But I’m loving it. It’ll be tough but I’m committed to that and so are the club.
“And the fans are amazing – we want to do well as much as they do and you want to do it for them.
“I think one of my biggest weaknesses is the pressure I put on myself. I’m very demanding on myself – I want to do well and it can be hard to be successful every time. You get a little taste of success and it’s a wonderful feeling and you want that again and again. I’m trying to become a little bit more balanced and so far, so good.
“But this is a great team to be at and I can’t wait for the season to start.”