Building the Herd – Nicky Chinn

#27 Nicky Chinn

Position: Forward

Born: Caerdydd, Wales

Announced as signed: Officially in Basingstoke Gazette and Bison website 12/5/11, unofficially on Twitter at least twice

Despite some rumours that he wouldn’t be back, Bison captain Nicky Chinn has been announced as returning to the Herd for the 2011/12 season, his 24th in British senior hockey.

The Cardiff born forward, the Great Britain player of the tournament the last time they made the IIHF World Championship Elite Group in 1994 appeared in 50 games for the Bison last season totalling 12 goals and 49 assists for a total of 61 points making him the top British scorer on the roster. Over the season he also accumulated 98 PIMs.

It was 2006 and a pre-season game between the Bison and Slough and all of a sudden behind the play two sets of gloves hit the deck and Mark Desantis is fighting some guy with a shaved head. The fight lasted about 3 punches and Desantis won. He’d just beaten Nicky Chinn and I was wincing from the bombs that Desantis had thrown.

I’ve only been watching hockey about 6 years so at the time I didn’t realise who Chinny was, needless to say I’m a bit more clued up now. I realise it’s not an opinion that everyone agrees with but I am really glad we have Nicky Chinn back with us.

Don’t get me wrong, I get infuriated when he’ll dangle the puck and lose it going over the blue line or randomly takes a penalty for chopping a guy or when he loses his rag. Why I like Nicky Chinn (and this is mainly thanks to reading his Twitter account) is that he gets infuriated with himself as well. I’ve had a chance to chat to Chinny and the one thing that shines through when you talk about hockey is every loss kills him. We all remember the last EIHL Bison season where losing was common place and some seemed to make a big joke out of it bar a few who were always infuriated that the team lost again (Jeremy Cornish being the obvious one and he has my eternal respect for that) but when we lose I want the coach and the captain pissed off! I want the leaders on the team to say “we didn’t do enough this time, we can and will do better” and that’s what Chinny does.

Personality traits aside, re-signing the top British points scorer and a guy with 49 assists in a 4 import league is just common sense. We’re all aware the Chinn of 1994 that graced the highest stage in world hockey isn’t around any more. The speed and youthful vigour do not last forever but leadership and a good hockey brain are skills you cannot teach. His line with Lauko and Bronnimann was breathtaking at times in how it could just slice defences apart with crisp passing and a drop of the shoulder from one of them.

How much ice time Nicky gets will be an issue. For me playing Chinn 25 mins a night on the top line doesn’t make sense. He’s not Speedy Gonzalez and unless Moria gets a line combination so amazingly perfect I don’t think he’s a top line forward at this stage. Depending on opponents and how Chinn’s fitness holds up he is more than capable of playing 2nd/3rd line minutes depending on the situation. He’ll also see PP and PK time I assume but maybe, to make sure we have a well rested player and keep him free of injuries, it’s time to take Chinn off of PK duty.

I know Chinn isn’t popular with certain sections of the Bison crowd for the errors he makes or they think his temper is a liability. Some fans of other clubs also mentioned on THF about him having to “answer the bell” more. We can’t ignore what happened with Harabin and that slash and from what I hear Harabin is quite keen to “make amends” as it were.

You’re entitled to that opinion and as I said above, I too roll my eyes when that sort of things happen but the positives of Chinn’s talent, experience and leadership outweigh the shortcomings that age or red mist puts upon you.

After the cup semi final win at Manchester, Jim “Tambo” Piper was interviewing Chinn about his banter with the Phoenix fans and Chinn mentioned that he’s “more of an entertainer now”. Maybe so, I’d still rather have him playing for us than against us; nearly an assist a game a game shows why. Welcome back Cap’n.

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