RELIEF, light or otherwise, is not something which you would have associated with Braehead Clan’s season this week. Torture is probably more appropriate.

A strong word, but an understandable one given how painful it has been for the 3,000 odd regulars at Braehead Arena who have suffered all season desperately willing their team to find its feet.

But relief is perhaps the best way to describe the final weekend of the Glasgow club’s season. Poor performances and inconsistency aside, Clan still had the chance to make the end-of-season play-offs if they won their final two games. They triumphed in neither.

In the end, it’s probably a blessing in a thinly-veiled disguise. Not only did it save them from a near enough certain quarter-final exit against Cardiff Devils and put the support out of their misery, it accelerated the closure which came with John Tripp’s exit on Monday afternoon.

Being involved with an ice hockey team, in particular one in the Elite League, is a precarious business. Recruitment often is a two-pronged attack at different sides of the Atlantic, and given the nature of the European market acquisitions are often brought in with little time to spare. Add in a new head coach, then the task becomes all the more harder.

This season was always going to be one of transition. After all, Clan had just parted company with Ryan Finnerty, the club’s longest-serving head coach whose time was called after another quarter-final play-off exit. A high turnover in playing staff only added to the feeling of flux.

However, the drop in standard and league position were far more severe than anything expected or accepted by a management and support yearning for validation and silverware.

The growing resource of the Elite League’s big hitters such as Cardiff and Sheffield Steelers is something which would always make Braehead’s title aspirations ambitious. But the failure to retain a conference title was perhaps the beginning of the end for Tripp.

A series of bizarre post-match interviews in the last week added to the confusion and frustration within the stands as patience with the current crop grew shorter. In the end their downfall was as predictable as the axe which fell only a couple of days later.

Tripp’s appointment was a bold one and at the time was heralded largely as the right one. His pedigree was strong, his commitment unquestionable. But, for one reason or another, it just didn’t work.

What is clear though is that a repeat is not an option. Eight years on from its inception, real trophy success despite the resource of their rivals, is a topic which is not going away for Braehead. If anything the appetite for it is growing every year along with attendances and profile which has come the way of Clan. It is perhaps with that in mind Tripp's time at Clan was up. He  may well have come good, but given the last campaign, it was a gamble the club's ownership couldn't take if they want to put right what has gone wrong this season.

Is it fixable? Of course, and work is already under way looking at recruitment of players as well as discussions with some over staying. You can't imagine too many will, but tere are still flickering embers of hope within the ashes of the last year. 

We’ve had the pain, then the relief, but the healing process may yet take some time.