Goodnight and Good Luck – Carl Graham

The wheels of EPL hockey keep turning with the announcement that the first player to officially depart has taken his leave for us in the form of defenceman, Carl Graham.

Graham gave a statement to Banners On The Wall that reads:

My time in Basingstoke over the last 2 seasons has been great. Every season has it’s ups and downs both as a team and personally and it was nothing different with my time with Bison. Coming so close to winning something the first year was disappointing but then to come to the second season and to win the double has been amazing and finishing off with winning Coventry was the icing on the cake.

I have truly made a lot of friends both on and off the ice and I can’t describe enough how much I appreciate the number of messages I received when it was mentioned I was leaving, very overwhelming.

I leave with no bad word to say right through the chain of people involved with Bison. I’ve been made to feel more than welcome and I really do hope people keep in touch.

A new hockey challenge awaits next season, which will be slightly different but I’m excited to be a big part of it.

Thanks again and enjoy the summer

Scooter #81

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

What have we lost?

With the loss of Graham, the Bison lose some of that good defensive depth that served them so well over the course of the 13/14 season. Graham will never win an award for the most extravagant defenceman in the EPL but he is a solid option who will go out and play his position responsibly. Graham also has that element of toughness to his game that, when the situation arises, means he will gladly throw down and stand up for his teammates, lest we forget him punching Peter Vaisanen’s shoulder out of its socket back in 2010.

Where has he gone?

At the moment, the 30 year old Graham is not confirmed as having signed anywhere. Given his base in Basingstoke, rumours will abound as to which southern team he will be joining.

Who replaces him?

At the moment, the Bison roster for 2014/15 consists of a grand total of 2 people at the time of writing this. Therefore I will give a comedy answer and say Sergei Gonchar. You heard it here first.

Final thoughts

Well, we always knew they wouldn’t all stay.

Carl is a popular guy with the fans, never the most standout guy but always ready to throw a big hit or a step in to defend a more skilled guy. Despite being part of a side that won two trophies, you have to believe that his lack of ice time at the end of the season when things were getting serious must have played into the decision to leave. No shifts in the EPL cup final 1st leg and none at playoff weekend for a 29 year old, experienced player must have stung. There were known issues with his wrist causing him problems but Manchester’s James Neil played the playoff final with a broken toe. Graham likely feels that he could have contributed.

Ultimately nobody can’t be replaced and it’s come to the point where Graham and the club have gone in different directions. Whilst other clubs and players around the country seem to have had some acrimonious or difficult splits, this appears to be done on amicable terms which is all anyone can ask for.

All the best Carl, I’m sure you’ll be a big hit.

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