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Tendler Returns

Many great players representing Hull have skated onto the ice pad since 1988 and the birth of the Humberside Seahawks.  We all have our favourites: the charismatic Dale Lambert, mercurial Scott Morrison, enigmatic Dan Dorion, industrious world record-breaking Stephen Johnson, Big E Lavigne.  The list is enormous.  For me, there is one player who stands above all those great names: Jereme Tendler or ‘T’ as he is fondly termed.

Jereme arrived at the behest of Stingrays’ Coach, Sylvain Cloutier, himself a legend in Hull ice hockey.  ‘Clouts’ had scouted T while he playing for Corpus Christi Ice Rays.  It was not a signing to raise many eyebrows given that until then, Jereme’s statistics were good but not exceptional.  In one of his first games, at Sheffield, he looked languid and I recall one particular piece of poor puck control causing me and my mate, Gaz Headland, to cast a knowing glance at each other.  T looked and played like a rookie college player that night.  The label of being ‘lazy’ is one that unfairly stuck to Jereme throughout his four seasons with the Stingrays.  It only serves to prove that ice hockey fans often have little real appreciation of the true depths of a player’s quality; hands up, I fell for that one!

In his first season, T was selected for the EIHL All-star First Team, having scored most league goals (46).  His total for that campaign was 51 goals and 31 assists from 62 league, cup and playoff games.  Mister Lazy really proved his doubters wrong!

Jereme’s first season with Stingrays was certainly no one-trick-pony event.  Over the next three seasons, he amassed 178 points in just 219 games, earning him another recall to the All-star team in 2012-13 and an award for the Most Goals Scored.

Matty Davies played on the same line as T and rates him as the greatest player he has ever performed with, an impressive endorsement from someone who has played with many hockey greats throughout his career.  What typified T’s ability is the weight of shorthanded goals he scored.  He would patrol his blue line, often looking disinterested and disorientated until a careless D-man swept the puck across the ice.  Out would come Jereme’s unnatural reach to capture the puck.  The rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

Off the ice, T was a popular player with his teammates and the many people in Hull whose lives he touched, not least among them, members of the C Block Asylum.  When I joined this motley crew for a hockey holiday in Hungary, we arranged to meet T in order to watch a game at the home of his new team, Ferencvarosi.  The night before, T met us for a drink and at 4am in the morning, by accident found himself on a bus heading out of Budapest.  He returned to the capital in a taxi and attended practice the next day, a little worse for wear at 8am!  During the game’s warmup, T looked hungover and out of sorts.  He even looked up and delivered the cutthroat sign to his on-looking drinking buddies; this did not bode well.  Yet he then went on to deliver a masterful performance including a trademark breakaway shorthanded goal.

While in Hull (at what he liked to call, the city’s most versatile arena; a tag line that particularly amused him) I once heard a fan shout, ‘get off Tendler you lazy sod’.  I was hurt and embarrassed for him.  The game had not even started by then.  T looked at me and said, ‘imagine how good I could be if I really made the effort.’  There will always be some fans lacking the ability to look behind T’s poker face and his rope-a-dope style of play.  To those fans and players in the know, he remains the ultimate predator and a great teammate.

Matty Davies commented, “Where do I start with Tends? He was genuinely one of the best people I’ve ever met in hockey and someone I can still call a good friend to this day. I was with Tends at a time when I was young coming up and I learnt a few things from him. One of them being how to have a sneaky beer but still turn up and perform! The best natural goal scorer I’ve ever played with and seen in my career, he had a crazy knack for getting goals from nothing and was by far the best penalty killing goal scorer ever haha. We had a great relationship off the ice and a great one on it where my natural game was to assist and look for the pass and his was scoring goals. That brought my game up massively and helped me just being able to produce at a high level! I can’t thank Tends enough for his time in Hull and when I thought about starting this team it was one of the first things I wanted to do, so brought it up with Ian and he agreed immediately. We haven’t done enough in recent years for our old legends of the club and me Ian and joe want to bring that back! Welcome back tends and thanks for the memories mate.”

It is only fitting that we retire Jereme Tendler’s #27 jersey.  In this honour, he joins Hull legends, Dale Lambert, Stephen Johnson and Sylvain Cloutier.

Thank you for all of the memories, Jereme.