DOMINIC OSMAN hopes Hull Pirates’ signing of Jason Hewitt sends out a clear message about the club’s ambitions for their second season.
The former Sheffield Steelers and GB forward retired after 13 years in the UK game’s top-flight, a career that started out at Manchester Phoenix before - via London and Basingstoke - he ended up in South Yorkshire for the most successful phase of his career, winning four Elite League titles and three play-off championships.
Hewitt cited the need to embark on a career outside of hockey as the main reason for calling time on his illustrious career, but the part-time nature of the Pirates’ operation clearly fits in with his new way of life and is a major boost for a team who finished outside of the play-off places in their debut season in the UK’s second tier.
It is clear player-coach Osman and owner Shane Smith are keen to avoid a repeat of that effort, believing Hewitt will play an integral role in the team’s development over the coming months.
“Jason is one of those guys who we brought in to take our group to the next level,” said Osman.
“Anytime you can get a guy with that experience coming on board, it’s going to be a massive improvement to what we already have.
“He’s a guy who brings experience. He’s coming down from the Elite League, which is a good league and is continuing to get better. He would still be able to play at that level and anytime you can bring in a guy who can play at that level to a club like ours, it is going to be massive of course.
“You look at the organisation he comes from, it’s absolutely top class - probably the top organisation in the country - and he’s been there for 10 years. It’s incredible to be able to have a guy like that coming to our club.
“He’s going to be a huge part of our team next season.”
During his 10-year spell at Sheffield Steelers, Hewitt scored 101 goals while contributing 162 assists. In February, he became the first-ever player to make 800 EIHL appearances.
Throughout his career, Manchester-born Hewitt has rarely been slow at winding up opposition fans through his agitating style of play, including those who followed the Stingrays when they playeded in the Elite League before folding last year.
But despite being an occasional figure of hate for Hull hockey fans, Hewitt hopes to soon have the Pirates’ faithful on side.
“I’m an energy guy, hopefully the Hull fans will take to me when I get there,” said the 32-year-old. “I’m a hard worker and I will do what it takes for the team this year.
Anytime you can get a guy with that experience coming on board, it’s going to be a massive improvement to what we already have.Hull Pirates’ head coach, Dominic Osman
“Everything I’ve ever done has been through hard work. I’ll plan on playing the same game and whatever rewards that come with that is what I’ll be happy with. I’ll do whatever it takes to try and make this team successful.
“I’ve looked into the roster for this season and I’m excited with the guys they have brought in, it’s an improved group so we’ll see where it takes us.”