Goodnight and Good Luck – Michael Wales

An unusual Tuesday announcement from the Bison to confirm the second confirmed member of the roster leaving Basingstoke in the form of Mr “Do Everything” Michael Wales

Muzz away; Michael Wales won't be returning to the Bison for 2015/16. (c) 5 Hole Photography

Muzz away; Michael Wales won’t be returning to the Bison for 2015/16.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

What have we lost?

Whilst Wales carved out his career as a grinding forward, his time at Basingstoke has seen the popular former MK forward literally do a bit of everything. There were of course moments where he took on what is seen as his more traditional role, that of an energy forward crashing and banging around but Muzzy has also seen time as the space making forward on the top line with Karpov and Melachrino, occasional enforcer (and why he fought Chris Wiggins I’ll never know), defenceman, penalty kill forward whilst playing games as defenceman and he probably made a few cups of tea whilst he was there.

Whilst Muzzy didn’t put up massive points, his versatility for the Bison has been his biggest asset. Able to competently do anything asked of him meant there was always something for him to do. Injuries will always come, it’s ice hockey and arguably one of the most physical sports on Earth, so someone with the aptitude to be able to do multiple jobs and not be a liability when playing out of his regular comfort zone was vital for the Herd across Wales’ 18 months in Basingstoke.

Where has he gone?

We don’t actually know. Whatever the opportunity is, it was enough to take Wales away from Basingstoke. Sure something will come out in time.

Who replaces him?

Hard to say at the minute because so few people are currently signed. That said you have to think that a signing announcement is probably incoming on Thursday as a result of someone leaving today.

Final thoughts:

When Wales first joined the Bison, I arranged to interview him in a break during our respective work days. I called Muzzy up and as soon as we got pleasantries out of the way, my work’s fire alarm went off. Muzzy’s reaction to it was as it is to many things; he laughed it off and kept going.

I tell that story of Michael Wales the person because it’s somewhat indicative of Michael Wales, the hockey player. It doesn’t matter what got thrown at him, he just kept going and going. It’s easily observable from the last couple of years. Released by the MK Lightning, a club he’d given many years to? He found a place at Slough. Slough start having issues and Wales is told he can leave? He finds his way to Basingstoke. Breaks his ankle, has surgery and misses the playoffs? He rehabs during the summer and just misses the start of the season when he arguably should have been out longer. It’s fair to say resiliency is firmly part of his vocabulary.

In some ways 2014/15 wasn’t really a year to judge the points contribution of Wales; starting the season on the injured list then getting up to fitness then being slotted into which role suited him best then being forced to play on the blueline regardless. Re-signing Wales would have been interesting because really, we’d have no idea where he would have ended up anyway. He could have been announced as 6th defenceman and ended up on a line with Joe Greener and Ciaran Long.

It’s still early doors for the Bison in terms of its squad building (certainly the announcements) for 2015/16 so how the loss of Wales will affect the squad is still a long way off but lose him we must.

All the best, Muzzy; go hard and go well.

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