Goodnight and Good Luck – Carl Graham

A third Bison defenceman from the 2010/11 squad was revealed not to be returning today (17/5/11). #81 Carl Graham will not be icing for the Bison in 2011/12.

What have we lost?

Graham leaving means the Bison defence has lost a bit of its toughness. The 2010/11 blue line group was a lot less mobile perhaps than the year before but Graham’s size meant he could throw big hits and get in the way and just suffocate the play as the opposition came into the attacking zone.

Graham also stood up for his team mates at vital times last year. One who won’t forget Graham in a hurry is former Invicta and Sheffield Steeldogs import Peter Vaisanen who foolishly decided to fight Graham, took 2 punches, dislocated his shoulder and didn’t appear again last season.

That said, Graham for all his good points was found wanting positionally at times and was beaten for pace by speedier forwards. He was also the 5th defender and played little powerplay time. However to his credit, he stepped up and played extra minutes when needed.

Where has he gone?

Carl has re-signed for the Bracknell Bees, the team from which he joined us. He was announced today along with part time hockey player/part time MMA fighter Brad Watchorn from ENL South 1 champions, Wightlink Raiders.

The press release: http://www.bracknell-bees.org/news-259-two-familiar-faces-return-to-the-hive.html

After Coach Moria’s recent article in the Basingstoke Gazette it’d be a lie to say we’re all not wondering what money he was offered but I think the chance to play more minutes would have been a factor in this move for Graham as much as any potential financial incentive.

Who replaces him?

Again, at the moment, nobody. Since Reynolds was announced, the Bison have seen the other three defenders from last season sign elsewhere in the EPL and announced only forwards. The majority of rumours I’ve heard about the Bison have concerned the team signing ENL forwards or that the Bison will sign the EPL bound Canadian born, Isle of Wight based netminder Greg Blais rather than additions to the blueline.

The issue is with Graham is I’m not overly concerned about who is replacing him. I like Carl, don’t get me wrong but 5th defencemen are the least of our worries until we know who is in net and who the import defender is for my money. If push came to shove Daniel Lackey could step up from his 2 way contract to full time Bison minutes and make an admirable addition to the defensive corps.

Also we can’t rule out Tony Redmond switching back to the defence from up front though I must confess I prefer Tosh as a forward.

Final words

A big sorry to all the Carl Graham fans but him leaving Basingstoke isn’t the end of the world for me. Again the revolving door of British hockey means that we can likely find ourselves a suitable replacement to play as 5th d man and play on the penalty kill.

However that doesn’t detract from the fact that Carl Graham put on the shirt week in, week out and gave every ounce that he had. Another player who will never set the world on fire but Carl would go balls to the wall for the cause, stand up for the team and throw the big hit to try and raise the team and the crowd. We couldn’t have asked for more. All the best, Carl

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