Taking the positives of 2020 is not an easy task, but Dundee Stars General Manager and head coach Omar Pacha has a perfectly good reason to do that following the birth of his son last month.

After a year of working to keep the Stars name in the public domain in Tayside following the cancellation of the Elite League until at least September, Pacha’s outlook on life is somewhat different thanks to young Mika, who is keeping him busy compared to how Pacha would normally be.

“The time off has allowed me the extra time to bond with my new son and I’m grateful to have that, but I’m programmed to be busy too,” Pacha laughed. “Fatherhood is a privilege and you cherish every moment, but I’m used to being active with work and hockey.

“It’s something I always try to do and I know people can get down if they’re not keeping busy. My son is certainly keeping me doing that right now and it’s a good way to look at things.

“It’s given me a different perspective to life.  Off ice, we’ve done all we can to work on the relationship with the fans, so after growing our attendance in recent years, keeping that was important, but from a personal point of view, having a child has brought new emotions.”

Keeping that fan engagement was important to Dundee, having posted increased attendances in the last three seasons and once the pandemic hit and halted everything to do with ice hockey, like many clubs, Pacha and his team looked at how to maintain the interest.

They hosted a live Hogmanay show to see in the New Year, which included guests and even some music, serving as a decent alternative to Susan Calman and the BBC’s offering and the sort of thing not seen by an ice hockey club before.

The importance of producing this kind of content is not lost on Pacha and after working hard to attract the people of Dundee to come to games since he joined the club in 2017, it’s not something he wants to see slip away.

“We’ve tried different things to keep our interaction with the fans going,” he added. “I feel we were able to innovate in different areas, for example, we did a live show online at Hogmanay which went down well.

“We looked at different clubs in sport in ways of how to grow our club.  Around the league, other teams have done some good things to keep things going.  Cardiff and Glasgow have had interviews online regularly.

“But we value keeping the engagement up so we’re not clueless when we do some back and we’re not in a position where we’re re-selling something again.”

With all ten Elite League teams looking to start in September, there are hurdles to overcome for Pacha, but he insists when it’s time to start preparations properly, he and his team will be ready.

“The main thing is we can’t wait to start and we’re ready to go,” he said. “When you have this time, you’re always trying to look ahead and we’ve looked at everything we want to do.  In a general manager’s role, it comes back to the fan engagement side and keeping things going.

“How we approach bringing people back is going to be a big thing.  On the sporting side, there are leagues being played elsewhere in the world, so I can keep an eye on that and the market.

“It’s challenging mentally and while this is usually the busiest time of the year, it’s fun to have Christmas and New Year with the family.”