Ace marksman Forney begins likely Belfast Giant exodus
Mike Forney has kicked off what is expected to be a summer of change for the Belfast Giants by becoming the first player to confirm that he is to leave the club. The 28-year-old American took to Twitter to thank the club and Ulster University - where he has been studying for a Masters degree - for a 'memorable two years' suggesting that his time in Northern Ireland has come to an end.
He posted yesterday: "Thank you to @BelfastGiants @UlsterBizSchool @belfast and most of all to my supportive wife @findingforney for the memorable two years!"
The Giants then responded with a statement on their official website, confirming that they would be parting company with Forney.
It said: "The Belfast Giants would like to thank forward Michael Forney for his service to the organisation during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons and wish him well in the future."
Forney struck 47 goals in 126 games for the Giants, chipping in with 64 assists as well and Director of Hockey Operations Steve Thornton will now have to seek out a top-quality replacement for next campaign.
The former NHL draft pick joined the Giants from the Sheffield Steelers in the summer of 2015 and it is thought that he is seeking to further his career outside of the Elite League.
The Giants have revealed that all-time leading goalscorer Colin Shields is to be awarded a testimonial, which will take place on Tuesday November 21.
The club hasn't, however, revealed whether the 37-year-old's testimonial is part of a new contract or if he is to retire.
Player-coach Derrick Walser has already revealed that he is to take the next couple of weeks to decide whether or not he will hang up his skates and if that happens whether or not his future as a coach is in Belfast.
Adam Keefe, who has been captain of the team for the last five years, is another who has said that he has a decision to make about his own future after playing a reduced role this season.
In addition the Giants have seven other players who are already past the 35-years-old mark, or will be by the time the new season starts in September.
Forward Steve Saviano is linked to the Giants' Ulster University scheme and is expected to stay in Belfast for a second year but, like Forney, James Desmarais' term that is now completed and at 37-years-old his future is uncertain.
The others who have not confirmed their stay in Belfast are goaltender Stephen Murphy, defencemen Jeff Mason and Jim Vandermeer and forward Brandon Benedict.