Goodnight and Good Luck – Steve MoriaPosted: 19/04/2012
It was confirmed before the playoff weekend that after 3 years, Steve Moria’s second reign as coach of the Basingstoke Bison had come to an end. To coach and player, we give #19 the traditional Banners On The Wall farewell.
What have we lost?
From a very simple perspective we’ve lost a point per game import who was a decent top or second line centre. Moria’s hockey brain outdoes most players you or I will ever see and whilst he’s not as sprightly as Liam Chong or Jacob Heron his skill level and reading of the game are second to none. At 51 years old to be competing at the level he is makes Moria a great athlete and there’s no denying that his ability to go like he does at his age is nothing short of phenomenal.
Since the Bison left the EIHL for the EPL, Moria has been the man at the helm of the Bison ship. The Bison lose the core of their system and the man who called the shots on the ice. He’s recruited the team for 3 years and has very much left his mark on the Bison teams that have played in the EPL have played Moria hockey.
The other thing we have lost of course is a certifiable British hockey legend leading the club which does attract certain players to it.
Where has he gone?
At the moment, nowhere but rumours do abound. British Ice Hockey reported recently that Moria would be heading back to Cardiff where his jersey is retired to be the Devils’ new director of hockey. Other rumours speak of a return to Canada or one that’s been doing the rounds quietly is a possible appearance at Bracknell, taking over from Gareth Cox. Nobody’s sure if Moria’s actually retired from playing yet so he could end up as a player/coach. Nothing is confirmed at this moment.
Who replaces him?
Rumours abound with all sorts of names, nothing is confirmed at time of writing.
I asked people to tweet me with 5 words to describe Steve Moria’s tenure in charge of the Bison. I got quite a few responses but there was one problem; nobody actually answered the question. I got tons of tweets telling my that Moria is a British ice hockey legend which he is but nobody really gave their thoughts as to his time in charge of the club.
I wondered initially why this was. Was the fact that someone who’s so iconic in British hockey was potentially hanging up the skates clouding peoples’ judgement and allowing Moria’s legendary status to get in the way of any perceived shortcomings as a player or coach? Were people just not fussed by the job he’d done but more focussed on admiration for the man? Could people just not read? Who is to say really.
Looking back over the three years since the Bison left the Elite League for the EPL, I think all us fans on a basic level hoped for more. Manchester who dropped from the EIHL at the same time as us have a league title and appearances at Coventry to show for their 3 years (though they’ve reportedly spent more money than the Bison) whereas the Bison have mid-table finishes, one cup final and never making playoff weekend despite having the budget to win the playoffs. On the ice the team never really achieved its potential, especially not in 2011/12.
However on the flip side, Moria presided over something the Bison really needed as a club; stability. Yes results might have yo-yoed from the sublime to the ridiculous but the club wasn’t staring extinction in the face, crowds were up and we’ve been (most of the time) treated to competitive hockey. For those of us who sat through the final season in the Elite League where the team couldn’t win a goldfish at the funfair despite the hard efforts of some, this is a good thing.
Yes, we want the Bison to rampage through the EPL and win a grandslam but we need to be realistic. The fact we still have a hockey team that is now on a solid footing with a solid fanbase that comes from across Basingstoke, Hampshire and further afield which competes every night is part of Moria’s legacy as well.
Whilst it really is difficult to pin down Moria’s reign as Bison coach into 5 words there is likely 5 we can all agree on.
So long and thank you
A new era is beginning