Cloutier steps up search for new Stingrays sniper
SYLVAIN Cloutier admits he has "gone back to the drawing board" in his bid to pep up his goal-shy strike-force.
The Rapid Solicitors Hull Stingrays' coach had two men in the frame until late last week, only to see both deals fall through over the weekend.
Technically, the Elite League signing deadline for new players is February 15.
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In reality, though, if his new signing needs a work visa, Cloutier must unearth his target by late next week to ensure the paperwork is completed on time.
"We're nowhere near finding anyone at the moment," said Cloutier.
"I was speaking to a couple of players last week, who are both playing in Europe, but those deals fell through as their clubs wouldn't release them.
"Sometimes it's a little strange as if a player came to me and said 'I don't want to play here any more' I'd say 'okay' because who wants to keep a player who doesn't want to play for you?"
Cloutier's best hope is to find an import who only needs his ice hockey International Transfer Card, rather than a work visa.
ITC's can take less than a day to be issued, allowing Stingrays to continue searching well into February.
"We'll keep searching for as long as we can, we won't give up," said Cloutier.
"A European guy is probably our best bet, as he won't need a visa, but we must make sure we do our homework on him to ensure he can compete when he gets here.
"The good thing is, even if our guy needs a visa he can come in on a three-month one, so doesn't need to get his biometrics done, which should speed up the process."
Elite League rules state teams can only ice 11 imports in any one game, but clubs can have more than 11 on their roster.
Hence, Stingrays are currently carrying 12 out-ice skaters – having added defenceman Dmitry Rodin to the squad earlier this month – plus Canadian-born keeper Greg Blais.
Stingrays' finances are expected to dictate that situation will change ahead of this weekend's back-to-back clashes with Fife, now his entire import contingent are injury-free.
Despite Cloutier bringing in defenceman Rodin, it appears more likely the axe will now fall on one of his misfiring forwards.