MALCOLM CAMERON will do his reflecting and forward planning with the warmth of the Florida sun on his back. The Glasgow Clan head coach has returned to the family home following the conclusion of a tumultuous campaign that ended with his team beaten by Cardiff Devils in the first round of the EIHL play-offs. After doing the hard work by winning the first leg in Wales, Clan were shut out upon their return home and ended up being suckered by two third period goals. It was a painful way to end the season.

Cameron took a few days to “decompress” after that loss. It is a result that still stings but the Nova Scotian can also now appreciate the bigger picture. This was a season that unfolded initially to a background of uncertainty and chaos, with Cameron drafted in to take charge of a franchise re-emerging from a lengthy Covid shutdown with a threadbare roster and unsure whether they would be able to play at all as the wrangle over ownership of their Braehead Arena rink dragged on and on.

Given all that, simply being able to put together a competitive team that reached the play-offs after an enforced late start to the season has to count as an overall success given where Clan were when Cameron took the call to join them a year ago.

“I felt sad for our group with how the season ended as we played so hard,” he said. “One of the things we struggled with periodically throughout the year was scoring. We had some scoring droughts. Some of it was self-inflicted as we didn’t put in the maximum effort or grit level to get in the dirty areas to score.

“We worked really hard in the play-off games but didn’t get as many power play chances, I think just one each night. And that was a factor. But we threw everything but the kitchen sink at their goaltender so I can’t fault our players’ will to win or resolve.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our group for all the adversity they overcame this year. I love challenges. Anything in life that’s challenging just makes you stronger. I enjoyed the late start to the season, having to practise away from Glasgow, playing games with no real pre-season, a really short training camp – all of that stuff.

“We also had a late start with recruiting but by the end of the regular season we were only two points out of fourth place. We had a real good stretch towards the end where we played really well when it mattered most. And the guys that we bring back will be better, stronger and mentally tougher for all of that.”

Cameron committed to staying with the Clan for two seasons when he signed his contract and can now start planning for the second one. With a core playing group, it ought to mean a less stressful summer for the 52 year-old, although an ambitious ownership and management team are hoping to see improvements when the squad reconvenes in September.

“I actually signed a two-year deal but we didn’t talk a lot about that at the time,” he revealed. “I don’t really like to talk too much about myself during the year. I enjoyed being in Glasgow. I didn’t get to do a lot of personal stuff as there was a lot of work and time spent preparing for games and managing players. So next year I’ll hopefully get more downtime to see a bit more of Scotland.

“It ought to be a lot smoother to plan for next season. We’re planning on there being a normal schedule and more of a normal routine. It will be nice to have some normalcy rather than rescheduling games and trying to jam them all in.

“There are a core group of players we’d like to have back but they might have other options, retire or move on. Unless you finish first if you bring back the same exact team then you’re probably going to get the same results. We want to take the next steps next year so that will probably mean recruiting new players who can help us reach that goal. We want to be successful here, no question, and that’s the same from top to bottom.”

Cameron will now enjoy a much-needed break but admitted that ice hockey is never far from his mind.

“I’m back in Florida for the summer although we might try to get back to Nova Scotia for a couple of weeks as it’s been a few years since I was last home. But you never get a complete break from hockey. You’re always on the phone, planning the next thing and looking ahead. And then we’ll all come back and do it all again next season.”