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Danny Stewart: Vipers moving on up

BIG risk or a leap of faith, Danny Stewart has no regrets about swapping the established success of Coventry Blaze for Newcastle Vipers' brave new world.

Danny Stewart
Danny Stewart

BIG risk or a leap of faith, Danny Stewart has no regrets about swapping the established success of Coventry Blaze for Newcastle Vipers' brave new world.

The Canadian replaced Rob Wilson during the close-season having led Blaze to last year’s Elite League title.

Now he has an 18-man squad boasting 16 new players, including 12 overseas stars, at a club that went perilously close to the wall just months ago.

But having been won over by chairman Paddy O’Connor and general manager Jaimie Longmuir, and the “great things” he heard about them, Stewart is convinced the Vipers are moving forward now.

They begin so by opening their league campaign at Sheffield Steelers – three wins from three so far – tonight, before the return leg at Whitley Bay Ice Rink tomorrow (face off 5.30pm).

And Stewart is simply relishing the new challenge before him.

“I do think the club’s going forward now,” he said.

“Paddy’s a big reason for that, coming in and setting things straight, and also Jaimie’s been unbelievable. Everyone behind the scenes has helped the team in every aspect.

“Obviously I wasn’t here in the past but I do feel there’s more stability now. Things have been pretty good so far and from top to bottom everyone’s willing to work hard to get this right.

“What sold it to me was speaking to Paddy and Jaimie. I sat down with them before I accepted the job and they basically mapped out their plans for the future for me.

“I’ve spoken to past players about the character of Paddy and Jaimie and I heard nothing but great things.

“I’m not going to lie, coming from an organisation that’s established and successful like Coventry and then coming here is maybe a bit of a risk.

“Things have worked out well so far and I’m more than happy that I made the move. It’s a leap of faith, but also a new challenge for myself.

“I’ve pretty much accomplished everything that I could in Coventry, so this is a new challenge I wanted to take on.”

Looking ahead to the Steelers double-header, Longmuir added: “There’s been a lot in the newspapers about Sheffield, they’ve recruited a very good squad this year.

“They’re a big-budget club, we’ve just got to go out and work hard and make life difficult for them. We’ve got a good rivalry with the Steelers and it’s a fixture we always look forward to.

“Historically we haven’t had much success in Sheffield, but with Danny and the new faces onboard anything can happen.

“Then hopefully with the supporters getting behind us at home on Sunday night we can come off the ice with a shock win.

“The supporters can play a major part of that, we’ve got a loyal and committed fanbase who follow us all over the country and it would be a confidence boost to see them support us in our first competitive games of the season.”

 

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