It is time to start planning games and trainings that won’t include Michael Forney and the need to shuffle the line-up to accommodate this expected, yet unwanted change. This weekend we have two very tough games against the top of the ladder North Stars and every point is invaluable.
I've read a lot of online articles of late about Thunder's playoff prospects without Mike: some valid, some very ill-informed. Although arguably the best import to have graced our shores, Michael Forney was only one dynamic in Thunder's game plan—but there is no denying his contribution. He was by far the most skilled player in the league and that in itself makes Michael very hard to replace. However, we'd built our team on and around knowing the fact that he would not be here all season, so the task at hand won't be as difficult as people would believe.
Being a new team in only our 2nd year in the AIHL, Perth Thunder is striving to build a club culture that is progressive and sustainable. Recruiting players like Mike play well for us, but also help us develop the culture we strive for by imparting his influence, knowledge and experience. This, in turn, has and will guide and keep us on the right road to success.
Michael was undoubtedly a key ingredient in creating the most exciting team in the AIHL. I doubt there's a Thunder fan or even any AIHL fans that would say Thunder are not an exciting ice hockey team to watch. Most of our games this season have only been won or lost in the last minute. AIHL fans pay good money to see us play and we strive to give all fans value for money, whether home or away and that will always be Thunder's club culture.
Yes, sadly we'll miss Forney's silky skills and those insane saucer passes, but we certainly do have other players all fired up to step into the light. Brian Berger, Dan Mohle and Kenny Rolph, just to name a few, are all great guys and very impressive players.
With Dan Clarke now in net, our game plan may change slightly from the beginning of the season but the entertainment value will certainly remain.
I have full faith that when the entire squad is all working together that we have that dynamic—that key ingredient—to keep Thunder rolling along.
And best of all, Mike hasn’t left Thunder entirely. He's now our European scout and our number one reference for the club.
So, my tip to the writers and bloggers: here's to Perth Thunder qualifying for the finals in the last minute of the last game of the season, and why not?