The Cardiff Devils have been dealt a major blow as fan favourite defenceman Ben Blood has left the side to sign a two-year deal with Finnish side Tappara Tampere.
Blood initially joined the Devils following three years in the Finnish Liiga, with two years with the Pelicans and spending last year with Porin Assat.
During his short stint with the Devils, Blood emerged as a smarter than expected player with a great hockey sense, as well as being able to use his physicality to his advantage, creating space for himself with his intimidating on ice presence.
In 18 games, Blood scored three times and assisted on eight for an 11 point campaign, and really upped his physicality in the last couple of games.
It’s the second big blow on the Devils defensive unit this year after Tom Parisi left the squad before featuring in any games, and now with Blood leaving it leaves a big gap for the Devils to fill.
The Devils are lucky to have a very versatile squad so it’s like until any potential replacement is brought in, Craig Moore will drop back from the fourth line to play defence, but it will give Andrew Lord a headache to try and work out his defensive pairings.
Blood had a great partnership with Bryce Reddick, while the other pairings of Josh Bath and Mark Richardson as well as Gleason Fournier and Mark Louis were perfect combinations, so the move may mean the pairings have to be considered again.
With Moore likely dropping to defence, it may mean that Toms Rutkis steps back in full time to feature on the teams fourth line alongside Sam Duggan and Matthew Myers.
The Devils are obviously disappointed in the news, with managing director saying “We obviously are extremely disappointed that Ben is leaving the club, but on the flip side, this is a great opportunity for him and he has agreed a two-year deal with a top team in one of the best leagues in Europe.
“We found out late last week from Ben’s agent that this deal was on the table, and we have spent the last few days negotiating the compensation for releasing Ben from his contract.
“We will never agree to release a player without ensuring that the compensation covers everything we have invested in the player. Tappara and us have agreed a fair package to get this done.
“Our fans will be devastated to see him go, but this is pro hockey. Ben has been a big part of this team so far this season and despite the circumstances, we know this is a great chance for him to get back to Finland and we wish him well with Tappara.”
The Devils face the Fife Flyers tonight following a rough weekend which saw them pick up back-to-back losses, and their second straight loss in Ice Arena Wales, so they’ll need to have a short memory to focus on tonight’s game without Ben Blood.
With some of the fan base crying out for a new blueliner even before today’s news, and the Devils will look to recruit a suitable replacement and have an announcement when the right guy is found.
Featured image: CardiffDevils.com