Canadian import forward Andre Payette has signed for Whitley Warriors for the 2015-16 season.
Payette has spent the last few seasons in the English Premier League as player-coach of the Sheffield Steeldogs and has a wealth of experience.
He has iced for a number top British sides including Newcastle Vipers, Manchester Phoenix and Coventry Blaze.
Payette, 38, also brings experience from North American hockey as he operated in the ECHL and AHL for the likes of the Mohawk Valley Prowlers, St John’s Maple Leafs and Toledo Storm before he opted to move across the Atlantic and come into British hockey in the 1990s, when he switched to the Midlands and signed for Coventry.
And at the beginning of his hockey career in 1994 he was drafted by NHL side the Philadelphia Flyers.
Payette already knows a number of people within the Warriors organisation as he played alongside player-coach David Longstaff during his time with the Vipers and also familiar with coach Dave Holland and some of the players from his Newcastle days.
He said: “I’m excited to have the opportunity to sign for Whitley Warriors and work with David Longstaff once again.
“I work well with Lobby and it’ll be nice to concentrate on playing again after the last few years when I have been coaching and undertaking a number of other roles during my time with the Steeldogs in the EPL.
“A number of the Warriors squad were younger members of the Newcastle Vipers roster when I last played on Tyneside, and it will be nice to see how they have progressed in the last few years.
“I hope I am able to help some of the younger players in the squad improve during my time with the club.
“I think Warriors will surprise a number of teams this season and we are aiming to make Hillheads a rink no one wants to come to as they know they will be in for a tough game for the entire 60 minutes they have out on the ice.
“I am hoping I am able to promote Warriors to sports fans throughout the north east and it would be great to see some former Vipers fans coming along to support Whitley on a regular basis in the future.
“I will also be working on sponsorship ventures for Warriors and any individuals or companies who would like to find out more about potential opportunities are more than welcome to contact me to discuss matters.”
Warriors are intending to announce further signings to their roster next week as Longstaff continues to build his roster for the 2015-16 campaign.