Ahead of his debut in the dugout this weekend, Glasgow Clan head coach Zack Fitzgerald has admitted that, while he is loving life in his new managerial role, there is a tinge of jealousy there when he sees his side gearing up for the upcoming season.

Retiring at the end of last season, former Clan captain Fitzy quickly moved into management to take over from the departing Pete Russell who accepted a role with German side EHC Freiburg - the side Clan will line up against in this weekend’s double header.

To deal with that quick turnaround, the 34-year-old Minnesota native has thrown himself into the coaching role with recruitment and game systems taking over from arduous gym sessions.

Speaking to Gazette Sport, Fitzy said: “I’ve been in the job now for a few months and I’m really enjoying it. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s obviously a completely different ball game for me as I’m usually preparing for the season in the gym throughout the summer with a focus on nutrition and all that sort of stuff so this summer has been a big change.

“I’ve thrown myself into the recruitment side of things, speaking with former players and teammates and just trying to put together a team we think will be successful. That side of it has been a lot of fun. You really do learn very fast. You know a few things as a player but looking at it from it from the other side now is quite the eye opener. At the end of the day, I’m really enjoying it. 

“At the same time, though, I am a bit jealous when I see the boys in the gym and preparing for the season. Doing that for so long and it being kind of a routine every off-season, I will definitely miss it.

The Gazette: Former Clan captain Fitzgerald admits he will miss the playing side of things this season (Photo: Al Goold)Former Clan captain Fitzgerald admits he will miss the playing side of things this season (Photo: Al Goold)

“It’s going to be hard watching the guys go out at the weekend for the first game. I always had a hard time as a player watching my own team when I suspended or injured and not be able to help them. However, I now have a big role in helping and preparing the guys for matches. I want to give them the best possible chance to play and play well which is exciting.”

Fitzgerald’s managerial debut in this weekend’s friendly comes with a bit of a competitive edge with his former boss Russell returning to Braehead for the first time since reneging on a three-year contract.

Fitzy added: “The double header this weekend will be great. We’re playing against a former coach here in Pete - whoever came up with that for the opening fixture was laughing. It’ll be good competitive matches against Freiburg for sure.

“I want the guys to just go out and play this weekend. I won’t overload them with information as far as systems go, I just want them to enjoy themselves which will, in turn, allow me to take notes and see more about the players to find our way.

“After that, we’re raring to go for the real stuff against the Dundee Stars the following week. We get right into the season just two weeks from now. 

“Playing against a Scottish rival is always fun with the double header. The fans always get right into it. Our support is the best in the league so that backing brings it all together and signals the start of hopefully a big season.” 

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