Goodnight and Good Luck – Shaun Thompson

After a 2 point weekend and what many were considering to be a pretty good start to the season so far, the shock news came on Monday night (28/11/16) that Shaun Thompson and the Bison had parted ways.

Shaun Thompson and the Bison have mutually parted ways. (c) 5 Hole Photography

Shaun Thompson and the Bison have mutually parted ways.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

What have we lost?

In what has been a somewhat inconsistent campaign from the Bison, Shaun Thompson was one of the most consistent performers. Thompson’s role in 2016/17 has been much more of a grinding forward role than in previous campaigns elsewhere and even different from last season’s role with the Bison but he took to it with his usual amount of hard work and dedication. Where high skill players weren’t firing on all cylinders at the start of the season, it was Thompson and Matt Towalski who were by far and away the team’s best performers on a regular basis.

Thompson’s biggest strength has been, that as an experienced player, he has been able to do a bit of everything as the roster needed. He could play top line minutes or crash and bang. He could play on the powerplay or get into the corners and work the cycle. The Bison will miss someone who offers them options.

Where has he gone?

At the time of writing, nowhere but with Bracknell having released the rather lack lustre Krystof Kafan recently and the Bees budget not being one of the biggest in the league, a player like Thompson who is a known commodity and can slot in to do a job quickly might be a more attractive option for the Bees than searching out another import.

Edit: after this was posted, Shaun was announced as signing for Bracknell for the remainder of 2016/17.

Who replaces him?

At the moment, nobody is lined up or announced. There have been talks of some NIHL players training with the Bison recently but no names are immediately being touted as a direct replacement for Thompson.

Final thoughts:

With the way this release was worded, it speaks to one of two things happening;

  1. Shaun has lined up another team to sign for.
  2. The Bison and Shaun disagree about his role and are simply going in different directions.

The release doesn’t read in the same way that Barton and Poldona’s releases earlier in the season nor does it read like Lewis Turner and Alan Lack’s releases when they stepped away from hockey. This appears to be the later of the two options discussed; Doug Sheppard and Shaun Thompson appear to be in disagreement as to how he should be used and it’s been deemed best for all parties for Shaun to ply his trade elsewhere. Given his qualities, the earlier option will surely follow and he won’t be without a club for long.

This is a real shame in a lot of ways. As mentioned above, Thompson has been a really solid performer for the Bison this season. Post the additions to the roster of Jarabek and Roehl, the entire roster has gotten better but Thompson was consistently good since the start of the season.

The role he had been asked to do was a mixed one though the majority had seen him in a much more grinding focussed role as a base with him branching out into special teams and occasionally being moved up the lines. I and others thought that he was excelling at this role though it seems that Thompson doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as a grinder at this stage of his career, as is his right. British hockey not having any sort of trade system and contracts being so short term in their notice periods allows him to seek another team to try and play the sort of game he wants.

As I said above, it’s a shame really but this is one of those things that happens in any sport. Sometimes players and organisations go in a different direction. It’s nothing to be held against either party, especially as they appear to be parting on civil terms, but the parting happens and everyone moves on.

What the Bison do from here remains to be seen. They are now effectively 3 players down from the start of the season and are without Joe Baird due to injury. You have to wonder if Sheppard now has his eyes on any potential replacements. However that is for another time.

Thanks for everything Shaun and all the best wherever you end up.

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