So we come to the latter stages of the Elite League season where the three arena teams will be dominating in relation to all 3 trophies up for grabs.
Surely after the last three years fans are starting to see how predictable the Elite League can be with the arena teams having the final say. It’s great to see the NIC at Nottingham full for Panthers home games and it just shows the Panthers organisation have got it right and are a very stable business. This business is the strongest in the league by far and I still cannot understand how my former club cannot even be in the running for the league title with several games left to play. It has been, over the last 3 seasons, the best supported and most financially sound team with one of the larger budgets and with the best British players in the league.
It’s great to see the young British players really making their mark on the league for there respective clubs, Robbie Farmer, Robbie Lachowicz and Robert Dowd, they have been given the chance over the last 3 years and look where they are now. They are contributing every night and producing great stats. These young guys was playing ENL and EPL a few years ago. Wouldn’t it be great if the league had a policy that each team had to have 5 under 21 British players registered on their books that were fully insured? Looking at the long term stability of each clubs development. these British guys are the bread and butter of the sport in this country and need to be given the chance now.
I like the fact that the owner of the Devils, Paul Ragan, has not tried to keep up with the large arena clubs this season by over spending on imports and has stuck to a budget thats sensible for the club This will have gained respect in the community and league and it will give the Devils a sound business name for the years to come.
The Scottish clubs attendance has risen a little compared to previous years, although there’s two clubs that wont make the playoffs it’s still great to see that financially they will continue to build as hockey clubs. It is not a quick fix, its got to be a long term plan and it has to be stuck to. All four Scottish clubs should be proud of the fact they are competing against a lot bigger budgets across the league but are introducing local British players in numbers.
I’ve not witnessed it myself but I have heard there are a few younger linesman being introduced into the league. This is also a massive step forward for these guys, they have to start somewhere and the experience they gain this year will stand them in good stead for next year and give the sport a long term gain in linesman. Hopefully some of these can turn into top referees in the Elite League as the likes of Carson and Hanson cannot go on forever. When they have gone we will all realise how much they actually did for our sport, love them or hate them they’ve been a massive asset to the sport and should not be forgotten. Without refs and linesman there is no hockey
The charity events happening around the country in hockey circles are fabulous. There is the 4 on 4 in Nottingham and the UK Fall Stars in Cardiff later on in the summer. These guys deserve a massive pat on the back not just for raising money for great causes but also for giving up their time and effort for a sport they love and for giving the sport a great name. Also the guys out there that do the match reports like TCW and certain forums who offer fans as much information as possible at no cost save for their free time and because they love the sport should be applauded. The fans should be very grateful for this and support these guys in numbers, it’s great to see.
There was one player who tested positive for drugs. Lets hope this is not the tip of the iceberg. You cannot hide problems like this, they will only stay hidden for a short time and then come out and hurt the sport, lets be open and honest and resolve the issues and move forward quickly.
I must mention the fact that love him or hate him Mr Westerdale at the Star in Sheffield should be thanked for breaking the news about the positive drugs test. This is what the sport needs to move forward in my opinion, so don’t knock the facts, they are there for us to read and for us to act upon. I just wish every club had a reporter to print the truth of what’s happening as that’s what fans want to read, not excuses or stuff that we hear time and time again.
Looking at the EPL its great to see so many clubs doing so well, we never hear about these clubs struggling financially, the league is strong and the league have plenty of British players with a handful of quality imports. It just goes to show it can work with only a limited number of imports. This league for me is what British ice hockey is all about, at the end of the day fans want to be entertained, win or lose, as long as they see their team give 100% and battle every night they’re going home happy. Looking at the tight scores recently it shows how close the league is with the exception of maybe 2 or 3 teams.
Since my last article regarding refs and players being targeted by abuse on social networking sites like twitter and facebook it seems to have stopped. This is again great to see as from the outside looking in such abuse is the last thing which will attract a possible sponsor for the sport.
ENL 1 north and south again are producing some great British talent. Maybe if there was one or two scouts out there that could give up some time to watch these guys in action, giving them a possible chance of taking that step into the Elite League, then that would be great for the sport and give the media something exciting to print. What would be better than a young British guy called up from a team in a league 2 tiers below the Elite league coming on to score a game wining goal for a club at the top level?
Now onto sky sports, the ratings of only 3000 watching each show is awful and it is really doing nothing for the sport at all. Why don’t the Elite League and the sport in this country target the BBC or channel 4 or 5 for example? The current ratings are very low, it may be a great show for some but really lets try getting in touch with another TV channel who may be willing to get our sport on prime time or who are at least willing to give us a little more than sky are doing. One day the league will employ a guy to promote it, to go get a major league sponsor so the sport can be recognised. We are coming up to the Olympics, surely we should be forward thinking about this and act now, not wait till the opportunity has gone.
Last one is well done Stevie Lyle on getting his testimonial this year. He’s been a stalwart of the British game for over a decade at the highest level and a Devil through and through. He has been a guy thats been an ambassador for ice hockey in Great Britain, representing the national team for many years and I hope his night is a massive success.
Since I’m getting great feedback on the articles I’ve been writing (and have been for many years now) I thought it would only be right to keep you updated on my current situation and my thoughts.
Firstly i would like to thank Andre Payette of the Sheffield Steeldogs for approaching me and saying that the Steeldogs would love to do something for me, to help after what hockey has put me through over the last 11 years. Andre had been drafted in the NHL during the early years of his career. The offer really showed that the guy’s got class and was caring enough to offer to do something for me, it was a nice gesture to get some money raised to help me. I had to turn this offer down as my then employers told me to stay well clear! I was a little taken back as I could really have done with the money but because the two teams had a fall out this prevented me personally from benefiting. Sadly this attitude doesn’t surprise me.
I do know of one problem which every sport has, that is that players are able to bet on there own game. Now with the bookies not knowing hockey and what can go off during a game surely the odds they give out are quite appealing for some to have a flutter. This is ok I guess but what if a player was to put £500 on his team to lose! Surely this isn’t right but then again it might go to explain some bizarre score lines we get in our sport.
My recent visit to the specialist was what I’ve needed for a while. Dealing with my situation all alone for over 11 years, fighting for justice against some very big fish, has taken its toll. The doctor was quite taken aback as he’d gone through my medical records and read my previous doctors reports. He said he was extremely surprised I’ve came through it all. He said that if this had happened within football the sport, league and Governing body would have been investigated for sure. With hockey being a minority sport does this mean that being treated in this manner as a GB international was acceptable? No of course not and we spoke at length and in detail about what happened from day one and all the legal channels I’d gone through to get justice and compensation for my injury. He was very supportive and hopefully sooner rather than later he’ll be helping me to get the trauma out of my head which is what I need to move on with my life. The brain is a very sensitive part of the body and can store these traumas for a very long time.
Moving onto recent hockey stories I wish Brad Voth all the best in his retirement. I hope that the injury that forced him out the game isn’t so serious it affects his career and that he can live a normal life.
I have been asked about drug testing of hockey players by a number of concerned fans. I think we need to wait for the league or clubs involved to make statements before jumping to conclusions about why a player is or isn’t icing.
On a positive note it was great to see Russ Cowley have his Testimonial game midweek and I hope the guy got lots of fans to turn out for him after the loyalty he’s shown towards the Blaze over the last decade. Thoroughly deserved.
The news that Cardiff will be getting a new 3000 seater arena in Cardiff Bay was also some great news for hockey fans from Wales and ice hockey in general.
I believe the Giants signing players like Deniset and Hoffman before the deadline will almost make them the favourites to win the league. I’m sure the Panthers and Steelers will still be battling away to lift the main piece of silverware that the Elite league offers.
The playoffs are coming up and the NIC is a great facility for the Elite league to showcase the end of season awards and finals, but I still think that a large arena like the MEN arena in Manchester, which is a neutral venue, would be a better place. Even better would be the thought of everyone heading back to Wembley for the finals again. Now that would surely mean the media would have to pay attention which is what this league needs. What the league is crying out for is a London club in the top flight.
Again can I thank all of those of you that have emailed me with messages of support, they are overwhelming. Together we can only highlight the situations we see and hear about but right now its only the current directors of ice hockey clubs that have the final say. You never know, one day that may change.
Ice Hockey in Great Britain where do I start?
The fans of ice hockey in this country are the most passionate and understanding people I know in sport, period, but personally I believe these guys are being let down by several separate issues that involve so many things on so many levels within the sport they love and contribute to in so many ways.
My recent job offer from the Sheffield Steelers came out the blue. After all that I’ve been through because of that particular hockey club it made me think several times before taking up the offer. I even considered was it just a publicity stunt to get the fans back? (more…)
SHEFFIELD Steelers owner Tony Smith reaffirmed one man’s faith in human nature today.
Smith has appointed former player Marc Twaite in a sales role at the club. For Twaite it represents the start of a new career…and closure on the most painful and emotion-charged chapter in his life.
Twaite, 37, suffered massive upper body injuries in a training collision with teammate Scott Allison on December 11, 2001. Under the ownership of Norton Lea, surgery was twice delayed and although the injuries finished Twaite’s playing career, there was no insurance in place to protect him. After Lea left, Twaite continued his compensation battle with the new owner Bob Phillips. (more…)
Having been to a few games at the NIC before and after Christmas watching the likes of fife, hull, Sheffield and Coventry all games have been very different, in a way that clearly states who has been spending the most money on quality and not just quantity. To me personally the closest game that went into O/T and that was end to end with lots of British players making an impact on the game was Panthers v Fife. Fife had 6 imports with many British players coming straight out the SNL which is a semi pro league only practising twice a week n one game a weekend last year! The British guys in Fife will come on leaps and bounds this year taking that massive step to Elite League and they will repay their club with their efforts once gained a little more fitness n experience in the years to come. The goalie for Fife who faced something like 70 shots I believe he stood on his head which was amazing really but just goes to show one impact import that’s solid on his game can win a game on his own in this league, very similar to Weller for Cardiff last term, Swez for Belfast the year before. (more…)
ROD Sarich’s season-ending injury sent shockwaves across ice hockey. The Sheffield Steeler had to have 15% of a kidney removed following an ice collision.
The accident resonates with former Steeler and GB skater Marc Twaite, whose career was ended by injury a decade earlier. Today, Twaite, 37, who is now virtually homeless, reveals how his own medical problems led to depression, arrest, alcohol abuse … and snorting pain-killers. Bob Westerdale reports. (more…)
How did you end up in Coventry? I ended up in Coventry after what was two very successful years on a personal level in Milton Keynes. It only took a couple of phone calls by Thommo explaining to me the team he was putting together, his ambition the new arena Skydome along with me being able to work also pretty much made my decision, the money side of things came 4-5th down the list. All I wanted to do was be successful in my career. To play in a new arena with a team that had the history that the Solihull Barons had, with a great Coach who was assistant to Chris McSorley of the National Team at that time, who I knew I’d respect. With a great bunch of British players which Thommo said who he was looking at signing, along with the fact that there was a very good chance of silver wear and with Thommo stating ”you’ve been a thorn in my side for a number of years now Marc, now I want you to be a thorn for me,” concreted my choice of joining the Blaze, even though I had lucrative offers from Guildford, Basingstoke, Peterborough and Paisley. (more…)