Selby ready to rumble
At just 20 years of age, Birmingham born Matt Selby already boasts over 100 Elite League games on his CV since progressing through the ranks of the Blaze junior academy.
In addition to his UK top level experience, the feisty six-footer has also taken the opportunity to play over 80 games in the English Premier League (EPL) where he has racked up nearly 300 penalty minutes, most recently with Swindon Wildcats and before that Basingstoke Bison where he won the EPL Cup and Playoff Championship in 2014/15.
“Playing in the EPL has helped me massively,” said Selby. “It's given me the chance to play some key roles on other teams and pick up experience in game like situations.”
Captain of Great Britain Under-20’s as they won a gold medal at the 2015 World Junior Championships in Estonia, Selby says he fears the EPL’s decision to raise the import limit next season from 4 to 5 might harm the chances of home-grown players like himself to pick up the valuable ice time he speaks of.
“I personally don't agree with the increase of imports,” commented Matt. “I feel that it's going to have a huge negative impact on the development of British players. Increasing the imports just pushes out the hard working local talent that these clubs have produced! It seems more of a selfish business decision rather than the league as a whole trying to develop players.”
Selby, who was handed his Elite League debut in 2011 has plied his trade on defence and in a forward role earning rave reviews in both positions, but where does he see himself playing in future?
“Playing D was where I was most comfortable, but when Paul Thompson gave me a chance to play forward I embraced the role and enjoyed it! I think I would personally prefer forward as I can dictate the energy I bring and that's what I'm hoping to bring to Coventry next season.”
Known for his rough and tumble style, Selby has earned the respect of his fellow professionals and fans for his willingness to drop the gloves when required, something which has not come without its tribulations with Matt having a well-documented concussion problem which almost entirely wiped out a full year of his young career.
“I'd like to think I'm a passionate player and that's what makes me play with an edge. When needed I take pride in sticking up for my teammates but I don't focus on that too much. I completed a full season last year and felt good! With having a few scraps and playing regular minutes I finished the year healthy so I hope to think those problems are now well behind me."
It will be a 2016/17 season where Selby will be contracted full-time to Coventry after being on a two-way deal last year with the Swindon Wildcats where he played 42 times, scoring twice, adding 12 assists and 185 penalty-minutes. So why make the Skydome Arena home again?
“Coventry is the club I found myself most attached to. I played here as a junior and spent my first few senior season’s here. The club has been fantastic to me over the years, even when I wasn't on a full contract the club has always been good to me. After picking up some more experience at other clubs, I'm hoping I can bring that back to Coventry and re-pay them for the development opportunities that they have given me.”
When Matt turns up for training camp in August, he’ll be welcomed by a familiar face having closely watched Blaze’s new Head Coach Danny Stewart win multiple championships in Coventry previously.
“I'm excited to get started. Danny was a great example for me when I was a junior player. I admired his style of the game and hope that I can try and bring an edge to the team like he did!”
With Elite League sides going in the direction of playing four-lines, it’s likely that Selby will get ample opportunity to impress the new boss and bring a much needed element of depth to the Blaze roster. The man himself, who Danny Stewart says will bring energy both on and off the ice, says he is happy to take on any role that he is given to help the club be successful.
“I don't have any specific goals, I am just looking to take advantage of the opportunities I am given by Danny. Whether that's earning as many minutes as possible or embracing a role. I'm not the type of player to be putting up numbers, but I hope to create space for my line-mates and make their jobs easier so the team benefits as a whole."
We thank Matt for his time and look forward to seeing him back on the ice in August as Blaze face-off for their first pre-season game against the Nottingham Panthers on Wednesday 24th August at the Skydome Arena.