Building the Herd – Kurt Reynolds

#7 Kurt Reynolds

Position: Defence

Born: Basingstoke, Hampshire

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 17/4/14

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

It begins again; after announcing Doug Sheppard would remain at the helm for the foreseeable future, the Bison have announced the first official member of the squad that will defend the double is EPL first team all star, Kurt Reynolds.

Reynolds, 27 has signed a deal to keep him with his hometown team until 2016 having just completed his 6th consecutive season in Bison colours. The last member of the final EIHL Bison roster still at the club, Reynolds played under 19s hockey at Guildford before heading to the US in 2003. After spells with the Soo Indians and Hartford Junior Wolfpack, Reynolds returned to Britain in 2007 with the Bracknell Bees in the EPL and helped the Berkshire side to a 3rd placed finish and the playoff final.

Reynolds’ performances for the Bees as well as 2 games with the Nottingham Panthers saw him get the call to the Elite League the next season as part of the Bison’s 20th anniversary roster where he 4 goals and 8 assists in 54 games.

When Planet Ice hit the reboot button on Bison hockey for 2009/10, Reynolds was the only player to remain at the club as Steve Moria took the reigns of command and both sides have never looked back. Whilst his 2012/13 campaign was ended prematurely by injury, Reynolds has been a mainstay as a top 4 defenceman for the Bison and is widely heralded as one of the best players in the EPL. Reynolds has hit 280 appearances for Basingstoke scoring 82 points over that time. Injuries and suspensions not withstanding, Reynolds should make his 300th Bison appearance sometime around November 2014. Kurt played in the 2008/09 EIHL all star game as well as having been selected as a 1st team all star this year alongside Tomas Karpov.

The Beast is back. This signing is a smart PR move on the part of the Bison right off the bat. With the rumour mill in overdrive last summer that Kurt was off to Guildford, Sheppard has got arguably the best player in the league back and got it announced quickly to set the minds of the fans at ease as well as probably convince a few people to part with their season ticket monies as well.

As the Sheppard signing was a no brainer for Bison management, so this signing is for the coach. Reynolds is an A+ player night in and night out for the Bison. Positionally sound, great vision on the ice, rarely makes a bad play, fantastic hands, can turn on a sixpence; it sounds hyperbolic but it’s not. Anyone who watches Reynolds is aware of just how talented he is at this level. How many times have we watched him in a corner against 2 or even 3 opposition players and still walk out with the puck?

One of the big differences for the Bison this year that helped in the trophy hunt was having Reynolds fit enough to play over half the games. Yes there was an injury but missing 6 games is a massive difference from missing 27. When Reynolds was lost at around Christmas time of the 12/13 campaign, the Bison found themselves in a real bind. Sheppard had gambled on the 4 import forward structure which was fine provided our defence remained healthy and losing Reynolds was a massive problem. British quality import defenceman at EPL level don’t grow on trees. Obviously Reynolds wasn’t the only reason for the problems last year nor is his loss an excuse but how much of a difference does a fit Kurt Reynolds make to the Bison roster? It’s pretty massive.

Reynolds is a leader by how he plays. Cool, calm and collected, he isn’t particularly vocal on the bench or on the ice. When Joe Miller left for Telford and vacated one of the alternate captain slots, a lot of people instantly said to me “it’ll be Reynolds surely.” I disagreed and said Aaron Connolly not because Reynolds couldn’t do it but because he didn’t need it. Aside from Aaron being a much more vocal player, sometimes it’s a good thing to just let your best players play and not need to worry about being a “leader” on and off the ice and I’ve always felt that way about Kurt. If Sheppard did put a letter on Reynolds for next season then great and he’ll do a fantastic job but if he doesn’t then it’s really no big deal.

The two year deal is a bonus that suits all parties. The Bison have one of their best players locked up for the next two years which a good length of time to once again evaluate this next phase of Doug Sheppard’s tenure in charge. Reynolds get 2 years of a spot on a team that is challenging for silverware regularly and play in front of a crowd who loves him whilst being close to his off ice interests. The fans get two years of Kurt Reynolds. Everyone’s happy.

It’s obviously tough to say what’s going to happen with Kurt at the moment considering that the roster officially consists of him and Sheppard but whoever comes and goes, there’s one piece of the blueline we really don’t need to worry about.

Welcome back, Kurt; as you would say, bosh!

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