After completing a busy pre-season schedule with Cardiff Devils, head coach Pete Russell will be embarking on his 25th season as a paid coach.
Over that quarter-century his coaching career has seen Russell have 23 different roles with 13 separate organisations.
That, one might think, indicates Russell had a long-held desire to be a coach. In fact, the reverse is true.
Russell, now 48, is possibly the most reluctant coach in professional sport.
He was also a reluctant player, taking up hockey in the first place pretty much by chance.
Russell grew up in the small town of Ayr in southwest Scotland.
“We played football a lot in that town, but there was quite a buzz about hockey at the time,” explained Russell.
“I was about 11 or 12 and some of my buddies were playing hockey, and we just went to the rink to try it one day.
“I couldn’t skate very well. So, I said, ‘I’ll just put the goalie gear on’ and went in goals.
“I took to it pretty quickly. After two years I was playing for the Scottish under-13s national team and then the under-15s and 17s.
Russell went on to play as netminder for a variety of teams in the second tier British Hockey League (BNL), but it was a career that never gained any momentum. Its peak was a call up as emergency keeper for Nottingham Panthers for one game.
Russell reflected: “I got more interested in going for a beer and stuff and I didn’t take it seriously. It was a bit of wasted opportunity because my parents put a lot into it, a lot of sacrifice.”
By his mid-20s Russell had ceased playing but the chance to take up coaching came whilst helping the Ayr-based Scottish Eagles at their training sessions as injury cover
It was an opportunity though that really did not appeal to Russell.
“I’d hurt my knee and then they needed someone to coach the kids,” he said.
“They said, ‘We’ll pay you if you coach the under-12s’. I said, ‘I don’t want to be a hockey coach, that’s the last thing I’d ever do, not interested’.
“And they said, ‘But we need somebody and you’re good with the kids’. I said, ‘I’m not coaching, I definitely don’t want to be a hockey coach’.
“I went and did it and two weeks later I was buying books, ordering things and trying to make it right so the kids were getting something out of it and it just took off from there.”
A year later Russell was offered a full-time position overseeing the entire junior ice-skating programme at the rink in Ayr.
Yet he was still reluctant.