Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ice Hockey: Kratky Pays Price for a Poor Start; Defenceman Set to Be Sacked EXCLUSIVE

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ice Hockey: Kratky Pays Price for a Poor Start; Defenceman Set to Be Sacked EXCLUSIVE

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

ALL week the under-performing Newcastle Vipers squad have been left in no doubt they are in coach Rob Wilson's bad books, but it is expected to get even worse for one player today.

Vipers are set to sack Czech defenceman Petr Kratky this morning as Wilson looks to reshape a squad which started the season so impressively but for whom Sunday's victory over Basingstoke Bison was their first for seven matches.

The club are refusing to name who will be released today but The Journal understands Kratky will be the unlucky man after a miserable time since moving to Tyneside.

The much-travelled left-sider arrived with high expectations, billed as a more effective defenceman than former Vipers star Jan Kraijeck.

But he broke two fingers on the opening day of the Elite League season at Hull Stingrays and has failed to convince on his return.

His prospects were not helped by the fact the team was in outstanding form in his absence - with home-grown youngsters Jez Lundin and Richie Thornton impressing at the back - and have been on a losing streak since his return. It will be the second time Kratky has been removed from the Vipers' roster this season.

He was temporarily removed during his injury to allow the club to sign another import, American winger Todd Jackson. But once he returned to fitness, Aleksandr Shevchenko was shown the door.

Wilson has shown his ruthless streak in the past. By Christmas last season, six players had left the club by one route or another, four having been signed that summer.

The decision to make Kratky the second player sacked this term is to give Wilson the option of bringing in another import player with immediate effect.

But he said after Saturday's 5-1 Challenge Cup semi-final second leg defeat to Nottingham Panthers he would have no qualms about playing inexperienced but committed youngsters rather than draft in another overseas player for the sake of it. …

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