Letter from Head Coach Doug ChristiansenApr 9, 2020
To our loyal fans,
Hopefully this letter finds you healthy and enjoying some extra time with loved ones during these unprecedented times. While I’m sure you’re all doing your part to help keep our community safe, I’m writing with the intention of providing a brief respite from the non-stop coverage of the Coronavirus.
First and foremost, I want to thank all of the Fuel fans for their support this season. Since the season was cancelled, I’ve had a lot of time to think and gain perspective on what is most important and my biggest takeaway is that everyday matters. You never know how your life will change tomorrow.
Admittedly, during the season, it is easy for coaches, players and staff to have tunnel vision and focus solely on the next practice, game, and road trip. The season can be all encompassing with the inevitable highs and lows. Every coach, player and fan know that you’re either going to end the season with a championship or a disappointing loss; however, this year, was unlike anything any of us could have imagined. In order to move forward, let’s take a look back.
I knew when I accepted the job last summer that we were going to have some growing pains to start the season; however, as I’ve said before, I truly believed that Indy was a sleeping giant in the ECHL. We returned just 17% of the goal scoring from the previous year and had many new faces in the dressing room. In fact, this season ended with only one ECHL contracted player on the roster from last season - Alex Brooks. My primary goal the first month of the season was to establish a winning culture based on communication, a shared vision, passion for the game and an unrelenting work ethic. Simply put, my staff and I wanted to set a new standard for what it meant to play for Indianapolis. We had high expectations and frankly, it’s what the fans deserve. The ultimate goal was to bring together a group of men who genuinely cared for one another and were willing to work hard for each other and the city for whom they played. I believe we accomplished that goal.
Lord knows, the season was not without tough nights or frustrating stretches. We endured a particularly bruising seven game losing streak which was partially chronicled by Bob Kravitz from the Athletic. We suffered more heartbreaking losses than I care to admit, but our group showed a relentless drive to compete and I hope that made you proud.
If you can remember the heartbreak, you can also recall the seven overtime winners, including Craig Wyszomirski’s game winning goal vs. Toledo to send us home for Christmas. I bet you can also visualize Bobby MacIntyre streaking down the wing and finding Spencer Watson for a goal – it happened a lot! You witnessed selfless shot blocks by Joe Sullivan, Michael Doherty and Derian Plouffe. You, like us, were excitedly anticipating the possibilities of a play-off run; however, what I hope you remember most is that you saw a TEAM. I have coached professional hockey for nine years and I can honestly tell you that this group of men were special. They welcomed others, they respected each other, and they wanted to get better every day. They loved Indianapolis and playing for the Fuel. It was a talented group and their commitment to Indy has set the standard for what it means to play for the Fuel. I am proud of the many things we accomplished this season, but what I am most proud of is the character of this team. They were worthy ambassadors for Indy during winning steaks and losing streaks - after big wins and gut-wrenching losses. But in the end, their finest hour was how they handled the unexpected rise of the Coronavirus. They respected the danger it presented and immediately became leaders locally and in their hometowns. It was during this dark and disappointing moment that they rallied together to show what a special team they were. They did not do it for fanfare, rather, they did it for each other.
I also want to thank all the fans for supporting our players as well as players across the league with our jersey auction initiative. We raised over $13,000 and are excited to play a large role in helping the ECHL and PHPA reach their goals!
While we hope to have many players return next season, inevitably some will retire, head to Europe, and embark on new paths, but I hope you, like me, will look fondly back on this season, and to this group of men, who laid the groundwork for the great things to come.
See you next season,