The Thankless Task

Jono Bullard exams why Dan Green gets such a hard time from some sections of the Panthers fan base, despite helping the team to win the pre-season Napoleon Cup tournament in Amiens, France this weekend.

Let’s be honest, the position of back-up netminder in the Elite League is a thoroughly thankless task. You know that your ice time is going to be limited to the odd few minutes here and there if your team is winning handsomely or being heavily beaten. On the odd occasion that you get a start, if the team loses it’s because you were in net and if you win it’s because the rest of the team stepped up. However they know their role and go about it with very little fuss or complaint.

Dan Green is entering his fifth season as the back-up net minder for Nottingham Panthers. It is unlikely he will start more than a handful of games all season, but during the pre-season he has enjoyed quite a bit of ice-time. This has caused an uproar amongst some Panthers fans ‘Why is he playing when we have better available’ they say. We have also iced Sam Oakford, Lewis Hook, Ollie Betteridge & Jonathan Boxill this weekend but the same argument isn’t used for them (and nor should it be if anyone thinks I am advocating it).

The whole point of pre-season is to get some match fitness, try out lines, work on some systems. In the grand scheme of things results are secondary (just ask Manchester United how important pre-season results are!) although it’s always nice to chalk up a couple of morale boosting victories. Green needs match fitness as much as Craig Kowalski & Martins Raitums. Overall icing him in this weekend’s tournament is not going to have a massive effect either way, but it is important he sees some ice-time in case he is called upon in early season in the event of Kowalski picking up an injury in a game for example.

For me it seems churlish to criticise Green when the team won the tournament, due in no small part to him saving all three penalty shots against Amiens in a shoot-out on Friday night. When I defended Green’s inclusion in today’s match on Twitter earlier I was asked ‘Do I want the team to win or just take part’? Of course I want the team to win and Dan Green has played a large part in that happening. Kowalski is the number one and will play the vast majority of games this season I’m sure, but give Green some credit when it’s due! There are some who believe that the back-up should see no ice time at all, a huge risk in my opinion. If Craig Kowalski is fit then of course he should start every game he can, but the back-up has to be ready to step in at a moments notice. How can he be ready to step in if he see’s no ice?

Green will never be the regular starting net minder at this team but I feel he deserves a little more respect than he’s getting.


3 Responses to “The Thankless Task”

  1. 1 David England August 31, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    This is a very one sided point of view jono, as for another view,
    1. If you cant use the argument on the outfield players why even mention it?
    2. Yes match fitness is important and to get a goalie in the right frame of mind is one of the most important, how can our number one nettie do that is he is sat watching the backup play?
    3. Green doesnt need match fitness especially as much as the first keeper as he wont play… end of.
    4. F green DOES have to play then the game is pretty much forfeit match fitness or not and the team will bring in a replacement if the first string is injured. Also a long term injury to a first string keeper in our league is pretty much game/league over anyway.
    5. He may in this case have saved all 3 penalty shots but he went in the nets when we were winning…on both days… and to put that into perspective he gave away 4 of the 5 goals scored today as well as 3 out of 4 penalty shots.
    6. This is NOT a criticism of Green nor is it personal, my view on this is for all backups and around the league i think it is concurred. I bet now that in a close game pre season or not non of our competitors play their backups. It may be a huge risk as you put it but no club in our league has signed 2 import goalies to play the regular season so it seems a risk that all the clubs are prepared to make.

    This is not about respect for a backup goalie, yes it is a pretty thankless position, but they chose that over playing for a lower level club and getting regular ice time so in that they all must know they role they are signing up for and that is to sit getting splinters and opening the gate.

  2. 2 The Cat's Whiskers August 31, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Don’t get me wrong if he was starting an important game in place of a fit KWall then I wouldn’t be happy. However I don’t see a problem in pre-season.
    Also you don’t mention that the team lacked discipline today giving away several PP opportunities which puts pressure on any net minder, regardless of how good they are.

  3. 3 Phil Cooper August 31, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Good article – seems that Dan made some good saves in the tournament. Being a permeant number 2 knowing that if there is a long term problem CN will sign someone else cannot be easy. Lets face it – nice to win, but it was really match practice and experience for Lewis Hook and Ollie. CN is no fool so I for one trust his judgement.

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