Hull Stingrays: I'm buzzing, I can hardly believe I'm in control of my own team - McEwan
IT'S been a long, hard slog, but Bobby McEwan's Hull Stingrays finally make the Elite League starting line against Nottingham Panthers tonight.
However, the 52-year-old, who took over the team close-season, admits his work has barely started.
All he can pray for is a bit more routine.
"I'm buzzing," he declared, rocking back in his chair at Hull Arena, looking up at the ceiling.
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"Just to be finally in control of a hockey club is unbelievable.
"Even helping design the shirts, deciding where to put the logos, the colours, I've been involved in all that, it's been spot on, I've loved it.
"The hard work is just beginning, but when the season starts, hopefully, a routine will drop into place because at the moment it feels like I'm working all day every day.
"For instance, I woke up at 2am one night this week and I felt I had to check to see if we'd got any more news on Shane Lovdahl and Dominic Osman's visas!"
McEwan has been involved in ice hockey for 40 years as a player and coach, first discovering the sport as a youngster in Glasgow.
Having lived in Hull for the last 25, he put his hand straight up when the club's Coventry-based former owners indicated they could not afford to extend their stay into a third season.
"I'm thoroughly enjoying it, it's a learning experience," said McEwan.
"When you've been in the sport 40 years you think you know everything.
"I knew all the on-ice stuff, but it's the behind-the-scenes stuff and all the paperwork, like ITCs, flights, and visas. It's been interesting. It's been totally different to what I've been used to. I'm still on a learning curve, but I've had a lot of help from a lot of good people so we've got through it."
And McEwan will need a lot more good work to build the hoped-for future platform.
Despite being like a kid in sweet shop, and describing the club's finances as "being in a good position", thanks to a big new sponsorship deal with Rapid Solicitors and a retained contract with Excel, McEwan is under no illusions about the pitfalls ahead.
He knows full well that ice hockey – like any other sport – is a business.
"I'd say we are in a good position at the moment," he added. "Obviously, it's a business, but if tough decisions have to be made they will be.
"I want to finish the season and have all the bills paid, with no headaches. That's my target and if we do that then I will class this season as a success."
Whether that will be enough to keep more than the hard-core of fans rolling up through the doors is open to question, particularly given the economic climate.
"I think Hull fans are realistic," said McEwan.
"They know we're not a rich club, but I'm getting a lot of positive vibes from a lot of people. I want to win games, we all do, and everything is set up to give us an opportunity to do so.
"Sylvain Cloutier's built a team that hasn't just got a couple of players scoring the goals and we've beefed up our defence."