A Brit of a Dilemma

As we approach June it is still not clear what the make-up of Panthers Brit Pack will be for the upcoming 2013/14 Elite League season. Last season’s championship winning team was dealt a blow early in the off season as Matthew Myers confirmed he would be returning to his hometown team Cardiff Devils, and as yet defenceman Stevie Lee & forwards Josh Ward & Marc Levers are yet to be confirmed as returning. All things being equal the line-up of British players would be complete by now but there are still two ‘quality’ Brits that are still yet to find a team in Ashley Tait & Robert Farmer.

Of course that is not to say the Brits we already have signed up are none too shabby. In Robert Lachowicz and David Clarke, Panthers have two of the best British forwards around. Jonathan Weaver was instrumental in our title success and is a welcome returnee to the blue-line while Dan Green proved that he was a more than able back-up to Craig Kowalski. That is a British contingent that most teams would be jealous of, however one of the many reasons why Panthers won the title was the strength in depth of the British players. So the important question is who will replace Matthew Myers?

Ashley Tait – Despite his advancing years you know what you are getting with Ashley Tait. You will get points, you will get hard work and you will get leadership. As both David Ling & Jonathan Weaver proved last season, age is no detriment to quality. However there is a but, a pretty big but!
It has been widely reported that Tait left Panthers under a cloud way back in 2002, the question is has time healed old wounds in the eleven years that have followed? Also, looking at the forums and social media, Tait would not be a popular choice amongst the Panthers fanbase, mainly for his perceived attitude while at the Steelers, as this You Tube video shows.
Personally I wouldn’t be too disappointed if we did sign Tait, but there is a player I would put above him, which is…..

Robert Farmer– Now that Farmer has stopped trying (and failing) to be the Elite League’s hardest man he has really impressed me. A very good power forward who uses all of his 6 feet 3 inch frame to crash the net and get in the right positions. Elite Prospects has him down as scoring 56 points in 58 games last season for Braehead, and at only 22 the Nottingham born forward would be a very welcome addition to the squad.
However Farmer has ambition and is actively looking for a roster spot in the ECHL next season. If Farmer fails to gain a position in the East Coast, I would like to think that the Panthers will be doing everything possible to ensure he is part of our 2013/14 roster.

I’d like to think that we’ve also been talking to Marc Levers, Josh Ward & Stevie Lee about returning as well as looking at any potential players from the EPL/ENIHL who would benefit from a season with the Panthers a la Marcus Maynard.
We need more British depth, that much is certain. The next few weeks will be crucial.

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