Bye Bye Brad!
Remembering Brad Voth
The Cardiff Devils seem to have drawn the short straw this upcoming season. The league has decided to go down a slightly different route, and have two conferences as opposed to one. While this might seem like a good idea, it means that Cardiff will have to play the big spending ‘Arena’ teams twice as much as the other low-budget teams, which in turn will have a massive impact on their overall league standing come the end of the season. This season, the Devils will be carrying 11 imports, but will the increased import limit be enough to account for the loss of Brad Voth?
You know, the Canadian powerhouse that patrolled the Cardiff Bay Arena week in week out, looking for an excuse to destroy anything that had the mis-fortune of getting in his way? Tough as nails and resembling a brick wall on skates. Brad Voth’s decision to retire will leave Gerad Adam’s with a massive space to fill and he certainly looks to have his work cut out as he has to find not only a new import player, but a new icon, and a new role model to boot. The departure of the man mountain is a huge loss to the Cardiff Devils no matter what anyone says. Probably the most recognisable player in the whole of the Elite League era, and never more than a step or two away from the drama. He was their protective father, their leader, their mayor. To say he won’t be missed is quite frankly absurd. Brad Voth was the Cardiff Devils.
With 2007/2008 being the season I first embarked on my journey to becoming an avid hockey fanatic, I had the pleasure of watching Brad play for 5 seasons. Each of them containing some sort of substantial ban because of who he was and not necessarily what he had done. The punishments never quite seemed to fit the crimes and in some cases identical incidents committed by another player would be met with a much smaller suspension, or sometimes even nothing at all. One reason he was highly respected by Devils fans was because of the extreme loyalty he showed to the club. Every off-season he would turn down big money moves to other clubs, just to stay in Cardiff Bay. He loved the club, and the club loved him. The fans wrote songs for him and in turn he repaid them with entertainment on the ice. He was the big friendly giant, who always had time for the fans. Brad Voth was an immaculate professional. However, in the eyes of opposing fans, he was the anti-christ, a cold blooded killer amongst angels, and quite possibly the worst human being on earth. To referees, the general rule seemed to be to take the duration of the suspension (from the mythical rule book), and x2 for being Brad Voth. I have it on good authority that Tom Darnell used this exact formula on several occasions last season alone. The sad thing is, in the later years of his Devils career, this led to him having to play to the referees instead of his natural style. Admittedly he adapted well, but anyone who tells you they prefer the new Voth as opposed to the EIHL heavyweight champion, 25+ goalscorer of 07/08 needs to go to some sort of institution. He wasn’t as physical. He wasn’t as intimidating. He wasn’t as prolific.
But he was still effective.
Just having him on the bench was enough to make teams play with integrity and knowing that he could go off at any moment was worth the entrance fee alone. Usually against Sheffield, he would play like a man possessed and In Voth, Adam’s had a Rottweiler that could break the leash at any minute.
Who can forget that controversial check to the head on Ashley Tait? The double handed baseball swing to the legs of Randy Dagenais? Or even the off-ice fight behind the benches with Adam Knight? Admittedly Voth could go off the wall and do something utterly crazy from time to time, but that was why we loved him. It’s not as if he did these things for no reason, it was his job. Ashley Tait got what he deserved. Randy Dagenais learned to keep his knees to himself, and I’m pretty sure Adam Knight won’t be jumping Tylor Michel anytime soon. There was method behind his madness.
An asset or a liability? Some people would say liability, but there’s obviously a reason why he was the most wanted elite league player every off-season. Voth was a ‘character’ – something most Elite league fans will tell you the league lacks. He was a franchise player, he sold jerseys and he put bums on seats. Brad Voth was Cardiff’s answer to Zdeno Chara.
To the relief of many, 7 seasons and 1893 penalty minutes later, Brad has decided to call time on his Elite League career and ultimately hang the skates up for good. No longer will he be smashing through the plexi-glass up in Hull, scaring the living day lights out of EIHL netminders or eating anybodies family pets. As sad as it is to see him go I’m slightly relieved, as it will mean supporters’ shoes will be staying firmly on in Cardiff, until further notice. So I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Brad for his contribution over the years and wish him all the best for his future endeavors . Whatever he does, I’m sure he’ll be causing controversy wherever he ends up.
How will the loss of such an instrumental part of the Cardiff Devils organisation effect the Devils this season? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see
…but if Cardiff don’t win the league, I blame Brad Voth.