Nottingham Panthers legend David Clarke admits he was overwhelmed when the club offered to retire his number five jersey.
The GB stalwart will be the guest of honour for Panthers’ opening league game against Manchester Storm on Saturday – joining Gary Rippingdale, Randall Weber, Greg Hadden, Paul Adey and Corey Neilson in the rafters.
And he admits since retiring at the end of last season, this summer has been a hugely difference one for him.
“It was overwhelmed when the club came to me about wanting to retire my jersey,” Clarke said. “It’s a massive honour and a huge privilege to be thought of in that way and I’m grateful for it.
“It’s going to be a special night for me and my family. Sadly, my son, Morgan won’t be there as he’s in North America and I’m sure happy for him.
“But it’s a night for my family and everyone who has helped and supported me through the years to play a sport I love.
“A testimonial is amazing and I had one of those after ten years, which was an amazing honour. Getting your jersey retired is the next level and it’s not something you expect to get.
“But it’s certainly been a very different summer for me. Usually, it’s all about training and working out and getting ready for the start of the new season, but I’ve haven’t had that which has been nice.
“I’ve been kept busy with hockey schools with the kids, but the workouts have died down and it’s been a lot more relaxed.”
Clarke also cast his eye on the season ahead as Panthers embark on their new era under new coach Rich Chernomaz.
The 37-year-old admits Cardiff are the standard bearers, but reckons everyone could be in for an exciting campaign.
He added: “The team have been great so far, considering it’s all change. They’re big, fast and young and are making their mark already, which is great to see.
“The guys that have come in have found their feet and are producing, which is important and the returning players are performing too so it’s a good combination.
“I haven’t seen a lot of Cardiff, but they’re retained a lot of key players and they’re doing well in the Champions League, although results have gone against them.
“They are setting the standard, but if you look around the league at the likes of Belfast and Nottingham, the teams are strong.
“Cardiff have set the bar and I think a lot of the clubs around the Elite League have put together strong rosters so it could be spread out in terms of surprise teams coming through.
“Belfast also look really good too and they’ll make a push so it’s going to be exciting for everyone, especially when the teams a little behind in their training find their feet.”
LISTEN: Clarke looks ahead to jersey retirement night
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