Steve King - Offseason 2018
It's been a while since we've done any interviews over here on the Inferno, and to be honest the club these days are doing a much better job of fan interaction in general which helps. We're inquisitive folks though and it's a long offseason. Also we like asking questions. Fortunately, Steve King is equally happy to provide answers, so here's the first of our off-season interviews.
The-Inferno - Welcome back Steve! It's been a few years since we last spoke, and it's been quite a successful time...
Steve King - Thanks for having me back. I was feeling a little neglected for the last couple of years. I guess winning back to back league titles and the first playoff title in 19 years is what it took to get the invite!
The-Inferno - Two league titles in the past two seasons, a CC trophy, conference trophies and now, after 19 years a playoff final trophy! Are we looking at the quadruple next season now?
Steve King - The Grand Slam would be nice and we’ve been so close the last two years. Nice to have something to keep us motivated and hungry for next year.
The-Inferno - Andrew Lord has become the most successful coach in Devils history which is some accolade looking at the history of the club. Did you expect this when Andrew Lords signing was announced?
Steve King - To tell you the truth I had no idea what we were getting when we named Lordo as coach. I remember that Todd had really liked Andrew as a player in Belfast and in fact had been trying to sign him before coming to the Devils. It was actually Neil Francis that really stood behind making Lordo the coach so we’ll all be forever indebted to Franny for that stroke of genius.
The-Inferno - How did the ownership group over there in Canada celebrate the playoff victory, assuming you managed to find time to watch it all live!
Steve King - Sadly the four of us were all in different cities for the final Sunday. I had just gotten home the night before and the rest of my family were away so I watched it by myself at home. Probably for the best - I’ve been known to get a little emotional at incredible moments like that!
The-Inferno - The Cardiff Devils have finally taken over the running of the IAW and positive changes are taking place already, but how did the deal finally happen? Is purchase of the arena still a possibility?
Steve King - As had been reported, we did try to purchase the IAW in the past but we couldn’t find the right deal. There aren’t that many people in Wales that have experience running arenas like this so the folks at Greenbank asked if we would help out seeing as Todd was actively trying to improve operations informally since opening. Lots of work to do there and we can’t do everything that we’d like in the short term but hopefully we can maintain a quality venue for our fans and all IAW user groups.
The-Inferno - There were a lot of negative reactions earlier on this season, both on our forum and on Twitter. Can you just give us an indication of what that was like to experience?
Steve King - I have to admit that I was very disappointed in the negativity online and on social media. I felt it was bringing down a lot of people that usually wouldn’t be that way and taking a lot of the fun out of being a fan. Unfortunately social media negativity is a lot easier than positivity so I see this happen more and more often these days. I also heard from players who felt a change in the fan relationship and that’s an even bigger shame. Maybe our fans weren’t used to being defending champs. We’ll be used to it next year!
The-Inferno - And what do you make of the continued calls for a standout tough guy to have a role within the team? Surely the team that we had last season with the team toughness is the way to go?
Steve King - I’ve always commented that myself and the rest of our ownership group love tough, physical hockey. Our head coach has many dozen career fights! But we like winning championships even more. The key is to find the right player and the right kind of toughness. A loose cannon that takes bad penalties and suspensions is not an asset to a winning team. A really tough guy that can play the game and be smart about physicality is an asset and we’ll continue to look for those players. We have several of those types of players already and they are some of my favourite players.
The-Inferno - The standard of the league has increased again, but what do you make of the situation in Edinburgh? Todd mentioned at the playoff fans form that the league can't do a great deal due to the franchise issues...
Steve King - It’s obviously a very difficult situation in Edinburgh. A fantastic city and a great fan base that deserves better. As our league continues to advance and grow, we need all franchises to be strong and competitive.
The-Inferno - Are you planning to make any more trips across the Atlantic to watch the team in action next season? Even attending the playoffs perhaps?
Steve King - My plan right now is to come over for a home game and an away CHL game in October. After that, I’d like to come for games in the new year and possibly playoff finals. My wife and two boys came with me to Nottingham last year and we had an amazing time so I’d like to make that as close to an annual event as possible. The only thing I don’t like about Nottingham is that it’s not Cardiff!
The-Inferno - The last time we spoke (Back in June 2016) we asked about the Devils fans getting hold of some of the Buswiser hats... Any progress on getting a large number yet?
Steve King - Budweiser seems to have moved away from the helmets and now have beer mugs that light up when your team scores. I’ve weighed the benefits of buying each fan a light-up mug versus signing a star player and the star player keeps winning out.
The-Inferno - We're playing in the CHL again next year, how massive a draw is this to the recruiting of players for the next season, and even potentially looking further ahead?
Steve King - Every player wants to win and play on big stages. For Tyson Strachan, this was the first time in his 11 year pro career that he’s won a championship. We use that to recruit players. The CHL is a part of that. For a Canadian used to riding busses or getting moved up and down between leagues, the chance to travel Europe and win titles is a huge attraction
The-Inferno - You mentioned in your post on the forum that we're recruiting players now who possibly won't appear in the team for another 2-3 years! Any hints or tips on who we might be looking at or their current league of play?
Steve King - Haha! No names yet but these are typically guys that have some connection to someone within our organization and are playing at a high level in North America. The common denominator is that they usually are very interested in taking an MBA and are smart enough to know that in order to maximize their lifetime earnings, it makes sense to come to the Devils as opposed to other leagues that they would make more in the short term. That was the exact situation with Tyson Strachan this year and he certainly didn’t regret it.
The-Inferno - Thanks for taking the time to speak to us again, is there anything that we've missed or that you would like to add?
Steve King - I’m just so happy to see the joy and togetherness amongst Devils fans after winning the league and the playoffs. Sport is such a powerful thing in its ability to unite and let us forget about some of the not so great things going on in the world or in our lives. Have a great off season Devils fans. I can’t wait to see what Todd and Lordo put together for us for next season!
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