Nottingham Panthers Director of Hockey Guillaume Doucet revealed he wasn’t keen on sending his team to Belfast prior to the Elite League’s shutdown almost two months ago.
Panthers had travelled to take on the Giants on Thursday, a day before the coronavirus had taken over and forced the premature shutdown of the 2019/20.
And Doucet, speaking exclusively in the new edition of The BIH Show podcast, spoke of how they brought the team home on Friday 13th March in the hours after the end of the season had been announced.
“It was a stressful time and that date, when the league was called off, it was early enough in the crisis where players were concerned about it, but not to a point where we were concerned about their safety,” he said.
WATCH: Doucet reveals Belfast trip reluctance
“I’d told the players we wouldn’t send them to Belfast if I we weren’t playing the game. I didn’t want people going all the way there and I was keen to avoid that at all costs.
“When it was time to board the bus and get on the ferry, I was told the weekend was going to happen, which was the information we had. We thought at that point we could keep playing until the end of the regular season.
“But we never expected the whole league to come to a halt like that. Unfortunately, the guys were already on their way and it was a bit chaotic.
“We did what we had to do and everyone got home safely. We left on the Thursday and when we know on the Friday that things weren’t looking good, Gary Moran was already looking at other ferries to bring the guys back as quickly as possible.
LISTEN NOW: Guillaume Doucet is a guest on this week’s BIH Show podcast
“Our flights had been cancelled and it had become a disaster of a trip, having to change the travel arrangements, but we got a ferry back on Friday afternoon. In the end, it didn’t turn as bad as it could have.”
Doucet’s first season off the ice since retiring as a player has been markedly different, taking the role after retiring as a player, ending his career with Glasgow Clan.
But he was soon working to bring in Tim Wallace as his coach, not to mention the players they brought in and by the end, saw plenty of good things despite something of a rocky start.
He added: “Our start was unfortunate and we weren’t playing well enough. Some players didn’t do as well as we’d hoped, but I kept the belief that we weren’t far off.
“When you look at it from the outside, there was the feeling we were slipping out of the race, but I could and feel we needed just a few things to improve on.
“We turned the corner in October and started playing well and you could see the potential we had as a group with some great performances. It was disappointing we fell short in Denmark in the Continental Cup and felt we should have won it.
“For a brand new group of players, a new coach and a new director of hockey, there were a lot of positives and we’re excited to build on next year.”