Published Friday, 13 June 2014
Todd Kelman has quit the Belfast Giants. (© Michael Cooper)
According to the CEO of the Odyssey Trust, which owns the Giants, they had been kept informed that Kelman was exploring other options.
But Robert Fitzpatrick added that it had "come as a surprise".
The CEO said: "Todd has been with the Giants since day one and he will be missed, but this team is defending a league title and we have a great core of guys back with the man we identified to take over in charge of the Giants."
The appointment of new coach Steve Thornton is said to have been central to the side reviewing its hockey operations and developing its strategy for the future.
This team is bigger than any player, any any coach, any owner, or any GM. This team has always and will always belong to you the fans.
Cardiff Devils have confirmed that the new ownership consortium will be headed up by Canadian businessman Steve King, taking over the team with "a handful of colleagues" including Kelman.
And in a blog written for the Belfast Giants website, Kelman explained his decision and revealed that Thornton had always been in line to take over as both coach and GM.
Speaking of his love for the team and the city he has called home for 14 years, he added his thanks to the fans, players, staff and volunteers.
"The reality of professional ice hockey is that we all eventually move on, whether it is a year, two, or even 14," he said.
"I know in the past I have said that, no matter what, this team can never matter as much to all of us that played here as it does to all of you ...
"But I'm telling you from the bottom of my heart, it meant more to me."
I am excited for Todd and wish him well, but my focus now will be on building on the success of the Giants to date.
Meanwhile, Steve Thornton has also wished Kelman well and said that he is excited to take over the reins of the Belfast Giants.
"Although I was looking forward to renewing my working relationship with Todd, it was clearly explained to me that I was in charge of all hockey affairs and I have a vision for the delivery of that challenge," he said.
"I am delighted to be inheriting a group of people including players, staff and volunteers with a great work ethic and a passion for this team who will be key to delivering on the plans we have going forward."
Defenceman Robby Sandrock has hailed both Kelman's impact on the team over the years and the plans for the future.
"Todd has been instrumental in the success of the Belfast Giants organisation both as a player and as general manager," he said.
"But as with all businesses, employees move on and the players wish him and his family well on their new venture.
"Being a part of the 2002/03 Playoff Championship team, I know that Todd was a fierce competitor on the ice and he has brought that to the general manager's role - which has resulted in huge amounts of success for the Belfast Giants over the last 7 years."
Fans are invited to the Odyssey at 7pm on Monday night to hear from new head coach Steve Thornton, Odyssey Trust CEO Robert Fitzpatrick, and outgoing general manager Todd Kelman.
© UTV News