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SWINDON WILDCATS: Kapicka signs on for Wildcats
SWINDON Wildcats head coach Ryan Aldridge has made his first new signing of the summer by adding Czech import Michal Kapicka to his squad.
The 26-year-old was part of the Mulhouse side which was promoted to the French top flight at the end of last season, finishing as the club’s top scorer, and is Aldridge’s first new signing after the majority of last season’s squad was maintained.
Financial problems at the Alsace club meant he was released despite having signed a new contract, and Aldridge pounced as soon as he heard he was available.
“This is a great signing for us, and we are very lucky to have him,” he said.
“To bring a new import like Michal into the league is great, and I am sure he will add something to our side.
“He is a side-handed shot, and we have been missing that on the power play for the last couple of years, so it is good to have been able to have sorted that.
“He finished as the top scorer for his side last season and was due to play in the top division in France next year, but the club were in financial trouble meaning we were able to bring him in.
“He has scored points everywhere he has played, and when I spoke to his coach in France he was full of praise for Michal.”
Aldridge is also working on a deal to bring in another new import to the club, but admitted it is becoming harder to bring new players to Britain.
“It is tough every year because the exchange rate between the pound and the euro is constantly changing,” he said.
“When I was in the Elite League they were earning a lot more money than they are now because of the strength of the pound, which made it a lot easier to recruit.
“It can be tough, there is no doubt, because some countries respect us and some don’t.
“The biggest problem for other countries looking at us is how stable the league is.
“Our league is pretty stable, but in the Elite League the bottom teams are always at the bottom, and that is not attractive to them.”
But when imports do arrive in Britain, Aldridge believes their experience of the league means they leave with an improved opinion of hockey in this country.
“I think their respect for us is improving every year, and they do see a different side to our game when they play here,” he said.
“When I was at Bracknell I played alongside a Canadian player, Brendan Witt, who went on to captain the New York Islanders in the NHL after he left us, and he was shocked at the level of things here.
“He thought he was going to come in find things easy, but he didn’t, he struggled to skate on some of our Olympic-sized ice pads, and he was a hard hitting tough guy who wasn’t strong enough to skate on it.”