Flattering to Deceive! ICE HOCKEY: Blaze Weren't Even Second-Best This Season, Admits Honest Thompson

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Byline: Antony Hopker

GAZING down on the wreckage of a season that consistently promised much but ultimately delivered nothing, Cassidy Coventry Blaze coach Paul Thompson has vowed to rebuild the side.

Finishing second in the league and reaching two semi-finals might be considered good for some teams, but not Coventry or Thompson.

"We over-achieved in coming second - we weren't the second best team in the league," he revealed. "We weren't good enough and that is something that I have to change for next year.

"We were behind the other teams and we couldn't win the big games. Our big players didn't turn up and we couldn't get a win when it really mattered.

"We were fine against teams five to ten, but we have to get better next year." Thompson is looking at the structure and the chemistry of the team, and is basing his plans on having the same import quota and wage structure as this season.

The Elite League is facing up to the prospect of a split because three clubs - Newcastle, Manchester and Edinburgh say they cannot afford to play at the current expense level, while Nottingham appear to be pushing for an increase.

"I hope someone bangs their heads together and we can find an answer," said Thompson. "We're looking at alternatives in case it doesn't get sorted out. There were presidents of a few European hockey federations in Nottingham and we're looking at the prospect of a tournament involving other countries. But we'll see where that leads us." Thompson has had in his mind the changes he needs to make Blaze a force in their tenth anniversary season next year.

"This team were a great bunch of guys, they were honest and the spirit was great all season," he said.

"I'm not going to call them out individually. …