Building the Herd – Nicky Chinn

#27 Nicky Chinn

Position: Forward

Born: Caerdydd, Cyrmu

Announced as signed: Bison season ticket night, 5th June

 

Coach Sheppard’s last announcement of the night was one that had been rumoured for a little while but was finally confirmed as we welcomed in the new boss, same as the old boss. It was the announcement that Nicky Chinn was back and was once again captain of the Basingstoke Bison.

Whilst I’d normally go through a player’s history, Nick’s is a bit extensive so here’s the condensed version. Since making his first appearance with the Cardiff Devils in the 1988/89 season Chinn, 40 (but feeling 25 if you believe his Twitter) has been as much a mainstay of British hockey as post game drinks in the bar and poor governmental body organisation. Using Elite Prospects as the source for the numbers Chinn has amassed 1,197 regular season and playoff games for 10 teams (Cardiff Devils, Cardiff Satans, Sheffield Steelers, London Knights, Guildford Flames, Basingstoke Bison, Nottingham Panthers, Slough Jets, Bracknell Bees and Milton Keynes Lightning) across 7 leagues (BD1, BD3, BHL, Superleague, BNL, EIHL, BNL and EPL) for a grand total of 1,282 points and 2,540 PIMs. His numbers for the Bison sit at 156 games (2 EIHL, 154 EPL) and 188 points. After 3 years as captain of the Bison, Chinn moved to the MK Lightning where he was named alternate captain. The season proved to be one of injury struggles for Chinn who ended the campaign with 7 goals and 11 assists in 47 contests for the Lightning who finished 4th in the league and lost in the playoff semi finals to Guildford.

At international level, Chinn gained 7 caps for GB under 20s and 31 caps for Great Britain including playing for the national team the last time they graced the full World Championships in 1994 where Nick was named GB player of the tournament.

Let’s go back to Wednesday night for a moment; the rink bar at Basingstoke is packed and it’s hot from the weather and all the people crammed in. The roof has just been blown off the place by the announcement that Kurt Reynolds is back and then Doug Sheppard announces that the new captain of the Bison is Nicky Chinn. The reaction was somewhat muted compared to the one Kurt received and a few people near me just didn’t make any noise at all but looked a bit puzzled as to why we’d signed him. The reaction of the crowd can’t have passed Chinn by.

Chinn’s signing announcement is around the 4:35 mark.

A few people looked at me and I told them all the same thing, “it’s alright”. I told them that because it’s genuinely alright and, if used properly then the return of Nicky Chinn to the Bison can work well for everyone concerned.

As ever I’m not really that guy to just blindly sit there and say “trust the coach”. If I never questioned what Moria or Sheppard did, this blog would be very short and very dull but this time I see what Sheppard’s trying to do.

With Redmond gone, we arguably lacked veteran leadership. With Owen gone we need someone who can play centre. With Lyle and Symonds gone, we needed more Welshmen. Yes the last one of those is less important than the others but the other two are important.

Let’s be realistic here, I don’t expect Chinn to go out and play 23 minutes a night on the top line or score 70 odd points like he did in his first EPL campaign in Basingstoke. Chinn can play a bit of 2nd line and a bit of 3rd line and add depth to the squad. The man himself has said on occasions that now he’s “more of an entertainer” and that’s true to some extent. People love to hate him and throw some banter around and he’s more than happy to chuck it back. However my rant that losing Redmond meant the Bison were losing intangibles is somewhat answered by the signing of Chinn. There isn’t a game situation he hasn’t seen, a scenario where he won’t know what he’s doing. That can only benefit younger members of the squad around him. At the risk of sounding very business like, having a veteran guy like Chinn can help achieve buy-in to what the coach wants to do. Apologies for that, I’ve been on a management course at work recently but think about it; for that younger guy, if Chinny’s doing it then it must be alright for me too. That’s not a 100% certainty but you get the idea.

The issue that will obviously be thrown out there is the sword that hangs over every older player; can he still go? Chinn’s age is a factor going into the campaign and there’s always the never ending question of whether he still has the legs. Can he stay injury free? Can he keep up with the play? Will any perceived lack of speed result in him taking too many penalties? Some will say no, some will say yes. There are two people whose opinion actually matters on that front and that’s Chinn himself and Sheppard. Me being me, I’m willing to believe that Chinn wouldn’t have signed on for another season if he didn’t think he could still go. Chinn’s a man proud of his abilities and his legacy in the sport and I don’t think he would be the guy to play himself past the point he didn’t think he could be an asset somewhere.

Nick has some critics to silence across the EPL and in Basingstoke. Having scored less than 20 points last season some will argue that this is a backwards step for Basingstoke but it’s never that simple. Sheppard’s not daft and will know what he wants Chinn to do. That might be on the third line, that might be on the second line. Sheppard said he wanted a team with depth so that might mean 3 even strength lines so line numbers become arbitrary, that remains to be seen. Somehow and somewhere, Sheppard believes that not only is there a spot for Nicky Chinn in the masterplan but he’s the man worthy of being captain when he puts it into action. We can only wait and see.

Welcome back Nick, let’s see what the season brings.

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