ELLIS TRAILS NHS STARS AS WITT STAYS HOME
January 26, 2005
Bees' player-boss has been searching for a replacement since Washington Capitals defenceman Brendan Witt announced he would not be returning to this country following a fire at his new Florida home.Witt, who had signed up for the final three months of the British National League
season, was only available because of the NHL lock-out that has so far prevented the world's biggest league from getting underway this season.
But although there is still no sign that the NHL players and club owners will come to an agreement over future salaries, Ellis faces a race against time to fill Bees' last remaining vacancy for an import.He said: "The one forward I wanted is not prepared to come because of insurance reasons.
"The insurance premium that these guys pay is linked to the salary they stand to lose if they get injured.We were lucky with Brendan because, although he was earning something like two-and-a-half million dollars a year, he was prepared to pay the insurance himself.Brendan was not making any money over here, only covering that insurance.
"The guy I get really has to want to come over and see England. I'm still waiting on answers from two NHL guys - one forward and one defenceman.Unfortunately Nottingham Panthers and Cardiff Devils both have big injuries as a result of the last two weekends so they are in the market too which is making it tough for me.
"The last thing I want to do is get into competition with them.I am making progress, though, and we need someone in because the seven imports we have are getting tired now."
Ellis, though, refused to blame fatigue for Bees' failure to win either of their two games in Scotland at the weekend.Saturday's 6-3 defeat at Dundee Stars was followed by a 4-4 draw at Edinburgh Capitals after overtime, but Bees extended their lead at the top of the BNL to nine points due to nearest rivals Hull Stingrays losing twice.Ellis said: "It was still a missed opportunity on our part as we could have moved 14 points clear and that would have been a massive gap for them to make up."We outshot both teams, but came up against two goalies in good form and lost out to a few funny bounces."Ellis was also having his cheekbone x-rayed yesterday after falling victim to a high stick against Edinburgh.
"Just after we'd made it 4-4 I broke my skate and couldn't take part in the overtime," added Bees' unlucky player-boss.