Goodnight and Good Luck – Tony Redmond

The club took the slightly different step today of announcing the departure of a player before they were announced elsewhere and it was a bit of a heart breaker for Bison fans as it was announced that Tony Redmond will not be icing for Basingstoke next season.

 

What have we lost?

In terms of the player, we’ve lost one of the better utility players in the EPL. Redmond could genuinely play forward and defence to the same standard and was an asset at either position. Never afraid to get stuck in, he’s as comfortable clearing the front of the net as he is going into the corners to dig out the puck on the attack. The big loss of course is the veteran leadership qualities that Redmond brings. The phrase “grizzled campaigner” might sound a bit clichéd in this instance but from a hockey perspective Tony Redmond is the sort of player you go to war with. He very rarely drops the gloves but he is always at the forefront when the other team needs to be stood up to.

 

Where has he gone?

The club confirmed that he’s signed for one of the Bison’s EPL rivals. This is widely believed to be Bracknell from rumours that have been circulating since the end of the season but nothing is confirmed yet.

 

Who replaces him?

Hard to say; on defence I’d arguably say Baird, forward wise I’m not sure, in terms of leadership, even less sure.

 

Final thoughts:

Let’s be honest here, this will be about as popular as a cow pat at a chocolate party with the fan base. Also for the first time I find myself massively conflicted. I give the club the benefit of the doubt a lot of the time. I’m not one for simply going along with public consensus on something. I’d like to think that if Banners On The Wall has done anything over the 2 years that it has been in existence, it’s prove that I think very carefully about what I say on here. Some may not like what I have to say and this is going to be a long one so stick with me.

The captain, the team talisman, the man that is called “Mr Basingstoke” with no hint of irony attached has gone to another EPL team. There is a lot of emotion flying around and I’ll get to that in a moment but for one moment, put those feelings to one side and consider a couple of other points.

If you rationalise this decision down to purely based on hockey ability then you can likely justify it. There are probably forwards you could sign to do an equivalent third line job and defenceman you could sign to play top 4 minutes on the blueline. Taking emotion out of it that is not an unreasonable decision to come to if you have the like for like replacement ready to go.

The other factor to possibly take in to account is that perhaps this is Redmond’s decision. If that’s the case Tony won’t have made any decision lightly but perhaps it’s a case of the role he’d play or one of many factors that have led him to sign elsewhere. Such things aren’t unheard of in British ice hockey. Whilst players might be associated primarily with one club, Redmond has played elsewhere before and maybe has chosen to do so again. It’s whether what Sheppard and the Bison have offered or not offered him that has necessitated the change and to join whichever club he has.

I might be the analyst but I have to listen to my gut too; I don’t like this. I don’t like the fact that the club released a rather paltry three line press release about it and I don’t like the fact he’s gone to another EPL team.

The value of Tony Redmond to the Basingstoke Bison over the years has been measured in more than just goals and assists. He has been a leader and the heartbeat of this club whenever he has put on the jersey so the fact he’s able to play and a way hasn’t been found to bring him back doesn’t sit well with me and a lot of people evidently. 2012/13 proved that he could still do a good job on the ice and a lot of people are left scratching their heads as to why this has happened because that immeasurable quality has seemingly been given away. The press release too is nothing short of a travesty to arguably the club’s greatest on ice servant. As a club the Bison are better than that.

Doug Sheppard does however deserve a little of the benefit of the doubt. The best seasons the Bison have had in terms of league position have come with him at the helm. The numbers prove that. His job is put together the best team possible with the budget that he has and we have to accept that means making unpopular decisions. Moria did it when he didn’t resign Ondrej Lauko a player who publicly said “I want to come back” and perhaps that is one of those calls. I’m sure Sheppard will be called on to justify what is happening, the announcement coming a week before he faces the public at season ticket night to announce two new players not just in the sense that he hasn’t resigned the player most people identify with the club but in who replaces him as well. I look forward to any explanation Doug cares to give though I confess there will be a lot of people who will want to ask it judging by the reactions I’ve heard today. A player announcement is also due tomorrow morning and it will be interesting to see who the club chooses to announce after the backlash today. I am also sure that Sheppard will have an answer to give, whether people like it or not is another matter.

In the 25th anniversary season of ice hockey in Basingstoke, to not have Tony Redmond on the roster feels really weird. Hockey however is a cruel mistress at times. Basingstoke fans more than most should know more than most about not getting what we want but the issue this time around is I don’t think people will genuinely understand why that is happening. Sadly folks, we have to live with it. The decision is out of our hands.

Whatever jersey he wears and wherever he ends up, he’s a Bison. It’s a fact of life. All the best, Tony.

 

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