Hamilton Pistols coach Ron Wright called out this team this week after they slipped into last place in the East for the first time since the first week of the season.
The Pistols have been something of a puzzle this season. The East is clearly the weaker division, and Hamilton has the SHL’s leading goal scorer, LW Steven Alexander (39 goals); the league assist leader, RW Claude Lafayette (37 assists); another top point man in C Rod Remington (18 goals, 27 assists); and one of the league’s best two-way defensemen, Raymond Smyth (5 goals, 21 assists). And yet, the team’s defense is deeply mediocre and their goaltending is the SHL’s worst (Harris Colt and Guillaume Levan combining for a 4.12 GAA and .888 save percentage).
In the eyes of their coach, the Pistols aren’t making enough of an effort in their own end. “We’re supposed to be a well-rounded club,” said Wright, “but we’re not. We’re trying to be New York, and that’s not our game. You can’t win if you don’t play defense. And that’s why we’re not going anywhere.”
The Pistols players didn’t disagree with their coach’s assessment. “I don’t think anyone in here is happy with the results we’ve seen so far,” said Alexander. “We know that we’ve got to step it up. The good news is that the division isn’t out of reach if we can get it together.”
With the trade deadline looming next week, the Pistols have an important decision to make. With the East up for grabs, should they try to pick up players to reinforce the defense and increase their depth? Or should they try to move players like Lafayette, Remington, and Smyth for potentially big returns? Wright said that personnel moves weren’t his responsibility, but “we need to focus on playing the best with the guys we have before we start looking at bringing players in. We’ve got to show some positive momentum before we make a go-for-it deal.”