COVENTRY BLAZE assistant coach and player Ashley Tait has played down talks of retirement after admitting he’s still playing at a level he deems good enough for his ability.
Since starting the sport professionally in 1990, Tait has played over 1,300 games for clubs including the Nottingham Panthers, Sheffield Steelers and Coventry Blaze.
The 40-year-old returned from Team GB’s World Championship campaign in Zagreb, Croatia, last month where they missed out on promotion to the second tier of world hockey by a single goal – losing to Ukraine 2-1 in their final game.
Despite the setback, Tait has since put pen to paper on a new deal to act as assistant coach to new Blaze boss Danny Stewart.
Tait will also oversee the commercial side of the club in what will be a new challenge for the former skipper.
Speaking to The Observer after the announcement of his new role, Tait said: “The Great Britain campaign at the World Championships went okay.
“We’re obviously disappointed because when you reach the final game and fail to win the tour will automatically be judged whether it was successful or not on that result.
“We didn’t get the win, we didn’t get the result but overall we played the way we had to and took tremendous steps forward with the national team – we’ll just have to wait for next year.”
The Coventry-based player also expressed his delight at the new signing of Danny Stewart as head coach – something which Tait believes will bring back some identity to the club.
“It’s a great opportunity for Danny,” said Tait.
“He’s been at Fife and Newcastle in situations where he might not have had the greatest tools at his disposal with all due respect to those clubs.
“He knows the ownership and wants to make his mark.
“We won’t get on the ice until August but Danny has a job to recruit and if he does his job well between now and the first game his job from September onwards will be a lot easier.
“We’ve already got a strong squad together and I’m confident we can produce the goods.”
2016 will mark Tait’s 26th season in British hockey, and naturally fans are beginning to bring up the topic of retirement regarding the 40-year-old.
However Tait played down talks of retirement, though added he’ll be the first one to hang up his skates once he’s not performing at the level he believes he’s capable of.
He added: “It’s frustrating, people will attach retirement to age and I’ve spoken to other players of similar age.
“As long as I’m healthy, my body is up to it and the people in who give me the job keep writing the cheques I’ll still be playing hockey but similarly I’ll be the first person to stop if I don’t think I’m playing at an acceptable level for my own ability.
“I take pride in my game and appearance – I’ll be the first one to let anyone know when I’m not good enough.”