Even though his name is not Cameron, McKay, McDougall, Wallace or any of the other well-known names associated with the chieftains of Scotland, Airdrie's Gary Haden is once again a member of a Clan.
Much to the delight of their zealous fans, Haden has re-signed with the Glasgow Clan and is hitting the ice for his second season with the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) team in the United Kingdom and playing before, what is affectionately known as the Purple Army.
The 2023-2024 campaign will be the second pro season and the second in Great Britain for the 24-year-old from Airdrie. If he can come through with a similar season to his first, the Purple Army, a group of passionate fans who cheer the team on at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow and often head out on road trips with the team, are going to be pleased.
In his inaugural campaign with the team, Haden was the Clan's leading scorer and won a pair of awards. He was chosen both the Players and Coaches Player of the Year for his contribution to the team.
In an interview on the Glasgow Clan website, Haden said his decision to return to Glasgow for a second year was relatively easy to make.
“I am super excited to be back playing in front of the Purple Army,” he said. “For me, it was a simple decision to come back to the Clan.
“I’m really looking forward to working with coach Morgan and putting together lots of wins for the team this season.
Even though the 2022-2023 campaign turned out well for Haden, the team itself struggled in the first half of the season and took quite some time to record their first win. After getting the ship righted, the Clan turned things around and managed to barely qualify for the playoffs where they lost in a first-round, total goal series. Haden was very appreciative of the support of Glasgow's fan base.
“I want to thank the fans for everything last year. They stuck behind us through everything. It meant a lot and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again.”
The club is looking to get off to a much better start this year than last season and has taken steps to do that with several off-season signings. They have new owners after being sold to Michael O'Rourke of TDL Media at the end of last season. Shortly after O'Rourke took over, the Clan announced the appointment of former NHLer Jason Morgan as their new Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations. Morgan spent 13 games with the Calgary Flames during the 2003 - 2004 season and had brief stints with the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild. He's coached pro teams in Europe since 2015. Morgan is happy to have Haden in the fold with Glasgow and is looking for even better things in the season ahead.
“I’m delighted to bring back Gary Haden for the new season and he’s a player who is not only a great skater, but has a great talent for putting the puck in the net.
“He’s a smart player who possesses a great shot and I’m looking for him to build on the success he had last season and I’m sure the fans will more than welcome him back.”
Haden says he knows how important a good start to the season is after last year's experience.
“Making the playoffs was huge last season after the start we had so it’s important we build off that."
"Those games at the start of the season are very important and there were times when we let those slip through our fingers.
Haden grew up in Airdrie, playing hockey in the Airdrie Minor Hockey system. He then spent two seasons playing for the U15 Airdrie Xtreme before splitting parts of two more with the U16 AC Avalanche and the U18 Bisons before a brief stint in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Okotoks Oilers. He was taken in the ninth round of the 2014 Western Hockey League Prospects Draft by the Regina Pats but started in the league with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
In his four-year WHL career, Haden suited up with three teams, the Tigers, Saskatoon Blades and Victoria Royals. collecting 80 goals and 90 assists in 232 regular-season games.
Before turning pro with Glasgow last season, Haden spent one year at the University of Alberta where he played with the Golden Bears of the U Sports League, scoring 10 goals and adding 11 assists while helping the team capture the Canada West Conference Championship.
The Clan have finished their pre-season schedule and will take on the Fife Flyers, another Scottish team, on Saturday, September 23 in their first game of the Challenge Cup, one of three competitions run each season by the EIHL. The others are the league championship and the playoff championship which also crowns the national champion.
Ten teams from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make up the EIHL.
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