EXCLUSIVE: Doug Sheppard opens heart over Slough Jets exit
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Doug Sheppard with the EIHPL play-off trophy that Slough Jets won in April.
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By Shakila Barabhuiya
FORMER Slough Jets head coach Doug Sheppard admitted he could not turn down the opportunity to join Basingstoke Bison next season.
Sheppard resigned as head coach with immediate effect on Monday.
Sheppard took over as player-coach from Pete Russell at the start of the season, Slough's 25th anniversary campaign, and led the Jets to the English Ice Hockey Premier League play-off title in Coventry earlier this month.
But negotiations between the forward and team owners Ghislaine and Zoran Kozic failed as Sheppard announced his intentions to continue his career away from The Hangar.
Sheppard exclusively told the Observer: "Basingstoke was the first place I played when I first came over, the only reason I left was because of a change of ownership.
"I've always had a close relationship with them and an opportunity came up to return.
"I've got to familiarise myself with the staff and the players and take it from there."
He continued: "It ended as high as it possibly could and I've enjoyed two seasons there, one as a player and one as a coach.
"It wasn't an easy decision."
Speaking about Sheppard's departure, Director of Operations Steve English said: " "We are all sad to see Doug leave the Jets but now the focus for us is appointing the right person as his successor.
"There are a few suitable candidates around at the moment and although it would be easy to appoint a level two coach, Ghislaine Zoran and myself all want to make sure that we appoint the right level 2 coach to continue building from the strong foundations we have at present."
Ghislaine Kozic said: "It's sad news for all as Doug has proven during two seasons that he is a valuable force as a player, and despite what has been a challenging season, has brought back to The Hangar the most prestigious trophy as a player-coach."
Slough's search for a new head coach is now under way and officials insist they will work tirelessly to ensure the right person is in place as quickly as possible to rebuild the team for the 2012/13 season.
However, the club confirmed on Thursday that there will be stability at the club with assistant coach Craig Moran and ENL coach and EPL player Adam Greener both staying at the Hangar. The duo will help build the new squad until the new head coach is in place.
English said: "We are actively searching for the right replacement head coach but having Craig and Adam on board in the meantime helping us to build is a great relief."
English continued: "We are well aware of the value of our team given the recent success we have had which is why we wanted to secure Doug's signature as quickly as possible.
"Since that hasn't worked out as planned we are happy that we have managed to get Craig and Adam to help us broker deals with the members of last year's team that we want to retain and identify key personnel that we feel will strengthen the team going forward.
"Having these two trusted sources on board and working towards the 2012/13 team is enabling the rest of the management team to work on appointing the new Head Coach."
Moran has worked closely with the last three head coaches so has gained a real insight into not only the EPL but also how successful Slough Jets teams have been built.
Greener also knows the club well having been part of the team for the last three seasons.
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