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Kevin Raine: It was Belfast or bust for me… I’d have retired if the Giants weren’t back

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Kevin Raine

Kevin Raine

Kevin Raine

Big-hitting defenceman Kevin Raine has revealed that the Belfast Giants were the only team he wanted to return to after agreeing to extend his contract with the team for the new season.

Despite wanting to continue his career, the 28-year-old made the decision to sit out the entirety of last season after the Elite League campaign was suspended rather than heading elsewhere to play in the meantime.

And now that the Giants are forging ahead with plans for a return to the ice in September, Raine is thrilled to get the chance to resume playing having at one point considered walking away altogether.

“It’s never been a question. It’s where I want to play and once the Giants were playing, there was no question I’d be back,” said the Ontario man.

“Had I considered (retirement)? Yeah. If the Giants weren’t going to be back, I’m not sure I’d be playing again because the truth is I’m going back to Belfast because I love it so much.

“I’m not interested in signing for a new team, new staff, new fans. I know what I’m getting out of Belfast and I’m really excited to be returning to that.”

Before the pandemic, Raine was considered one of the Elite League’s best defencemen and was the Giants’ Most Valuable Player in the 2019-20 season, and, promisingly, he believes he’s coming back in even better condition having had a year to put any lingering issues behind him.

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“I consider myself to have gone through a rebuild, mentally and physically. Conditioning has been different because gyms have been closed, but I’m really happy I’ve been able to focus on things I’ve been neglecting such as nagging injuries,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Giants are understood to have agreed a deal with Great Britain netminder Jackson Whistle to return to the SSE Arena for the new season.


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