NEWCASTLE Vipers general manager Jaimie Longmuir has backed team boss Danny Stewart’s nomination for the Elite Hockey League’s Coach of the Year award.
Stewart is one of a short-list of three with Cardiff Devils’ Gerad Adams and Braehead Clan’s Bruce Richardson also being nominated.
The Canadian’s nomination has raised a few eyebrows given the Vipers’ lowly position but Longmuir (pictured right) states it is fully deserved given the club’s perilous predicament.
He said: “Let me assure everyone he is thoroughly deserving of this recognition. There will be some who ask why has Danny been shortlisted when we are near the bottom of the standings and there are other coaches more deserving.
“But the job Danny has done here is remarkable and I can’t think of many other coaches who could have squeezed the performance levels and some of the results out of this group as he has.
“The reality is our club has no business winning any games given the issues with our roster but we have and that’s credit to Danny and the players.
“I am a firm believer you find out about someone’s true character in tough times and I am immensely proud how Danny has gone about his business and he has been a class act all the way.
“There are many that would have packed this in a long time ago given our situation, but Danny stuck with us and he has a very bright future in the sport.
“I know Danny could do a lot of the other coaching jobs in our league but I am unsure if some of the other coaches would want to or could do Danny’s job and that’s why he deserves the recognition for this efforts.”
The Vipers go into the weekend knowing that tomorrow’s game at Hillheads against Sheffield Steelers could be their last one ever if they can’t find a new owner this summer.
Longmuir added: “I can’t give any further insight or comfort into the clubs future beyond the end of the 2010/11 season. The only thing I know for sure is that the players will give their all no matter what.”