Banners On The Wall Question Time

Well after this previous weekend’s results it almost seems like it was a good thing I was away doesn’t it?

 

Either way I wanted to have an article out on the blog this week in spite of my absence and asked people on Twitter, Facebook and No Holds Bison for questions about the issues in British hockey that you wanted to see tackled.

 

I’ve collected a few together so let’s see how this goes. Think of it as my version of The Hockey News’ “Ask Adam” column without the readership and the players aren’t paid in millions of dollars.

 

Do you believe that the EIHL as it stands is a waste of time because it is simply run for the benefit of a couple of teams with the likes of the Scottish teams and Hull just there to make up the numbers? If so how could British hockey be changed so that teams are on an equal footing?” from Ade

 

As it stands, I’m inclined to agree. I do believe there are some things that the EIHL get right. At the moment I think 10 import hockey as our top flight is a sensible idea given the quality of British players and I think touch icing is decent enough despite being more of a fan of hybrid icing.

 

Other than that, the EIHL needs change. It needs to figure out a way to benefit all ten teams not just the richest ones. It starts with figuring out a sensible salary cap/floor. The people who say it can’t be done are saying that because they don’t want it done as the current system benefits them. Find a way to have some element of financial parity and proper fines for those who break it and it will improve the standard of the league and a more competitive league means more bums on seats.

 

I don’t necessarily think the EIHL needs an independent body from the owners to run it; the NHL isn’t independent of the team owners despite what it may appear though the owners in Britain need to wake up and realise they’re damaging the sport with the way things are run at the moment. It’s not like it can’t be done. Other countries in Europe manage it, we can too. They need to stop being so self-interested and make

 

It’s odd really as the EPL without a salary cap has proven this season to be a relatively competitive league whereas the EIHL which has finally shrugged off the façade of having a cap is essentially 3 leagues in one at the moment. Then again, the EPL is classed as a development league which is quite clearly not the goal of some clubs.

 

Is Dave Simms purely a biased, egotistical hockey fan rather than an expert?” from Matt

 

No Matt, I think Dave Simms is both.

I think it’s worth saying that Dave Simms puts a lot of time, effort and money into the sport of hockey in Britain where others haven’t and wouldn’t. He’s been burned personally and financially as a result and he deserves an amount of respect for what he does, especially around his involvement with the promotion of the national side and the EIHL on Sky. He’s been around the game for a very long time now and is knowledgeable about how the game is played.

He also doesn’t pretend to be impartial to his credit. Rather than setting himself up as a paragon of virtue, Simmsey readily makes it known who he likes and dislikes.

 

My personal issue with Simms is some of his opinions are just flat out wrong in my eyes. His disdain for any league outside of the EIHL and even some of the teams in the EIHL is almost nonsensical. As a Steelers fan him wanting the best for the Steelers is understandable but wanting the best for the Steelers at the cost of the rest of the league and the sport in Britain is self defeating.

Going back to the wage cap issue, Simms said in an interview with The Inferno “anyone who says you can in our sport isn’t involved in our sport” which is utter cobblers because 1. It does a disservice to a lot of great people involved in the sport who think they should and can be a cap and 2. there is more than just a hard salary cap that the league could have. Why not a cap as a percentage of turnover or a specific soft cap like the KHL? KHL’s cap has a ceiling and a floor with a luxury tax of 30% of the payroll over the cap with the money from that going into an account specifically to help sides in financial trouble. The KHL’s cap also allows for two designated players that don’t count towards the cap much like the one used by Major League Soccer in the US. Simms however advocates a “spend what you can afford” attitude because the Steelers can do just that. That attitude hurts the sport in my opinion.

 

I’ve long said if top flight British hockey carries on as it is we won’t have Sheffield and Nottingham joining some mythical European wide league but they’ll be playing each other 10 times a season like Berlin and Weisswasser used to in East Germany. This is the route that some of Simms’ ideas will sadly take us down.

I am happy for Simms to promote the sport because he’s a good promotions man but I can only hope he realises that the sport exists outside of the bubble he’s created for it in his head.

 

Promotion/relegation; the way forward or not?” From Pete

 

At the moment, no. Ideally yes. Firstly I don’t think the current EIHL structure would want such a thing nor is it feasible for any EPL side other than Guildford to make the jump and they won’t for reasons we won’t go into again.

 

The gap between EPL and ENL 1 is too substantial at the moment both in quality and finance to make promotion and relegation worth it but if ENL 1 improves in quality as it has been I don’t see a reason why we can’t have EPL at 4 imports, ENL 1 at 3 imports and ENL 2 at 1 or 2 imports to allow the winners of ENL 1 North and South to come up into the EPL and 2 teams go down with a reshuffle of teams as required at ENL level should two very Southern sides be relegated from the EPL.

 

Would adding another import to the EPL help strengthen the league?” from BSAKing

 

At the moment, no. I understand Coach Moria’s idea during the summer and his frustration but again the question is finance. I don’t think most EPL clubs could afford to comfortably run 5 imports of the standard needed to improve the league. There’s no point having more imports for the sake of it if it won’t and can’t genuinely improve the standard on the ice and British players. Otherwise we’d have re-signed Mike Olynyk.

 

EIHL is an owner’s league, EIHA governs the rest. How would you achieve a more effective governance structure for UK ice hockey?” from Bison Ian

 

Good question, there’s no simple answer to it.

 

The short version is I don’t necessarily have a problem with the EIHL and EIHA running things separately but we need one overarching body that all leagues are accountable to. UK Ice Hockey needs to have one body through which leagues are given license to control their affairs, that focuses and controls development of British players and that picks the national teams as well as their coaches.

 

If you look back in this blog, Matt Lloyd who runs Sledge Hockey UK said that the goal of all levels in this country should be to develop players for the national side. That should be the goal of the overall body of the sport in this country from the first time a 5 year old picks up a stick to Colin Shields, how can we make our national team better and improve the sport?

 

If the EIHL breaks any rules either theirs or otherwise, the governing body should have the power to fine them. If a coach is banned by the EIHL, the governing body can decide if that ban is upheld at all levels across Britain.

 

It’s not a complete plan I appreciate but it’s an idea at least.

 

Was the recent ban given to Jack Robinson, an MK Thunder player excessive?” from Icewolf

 

The thing that puzzled me about that suspension was 3 suspensions rolled into one. 20 games for spearing, 24 months for bringing the game into disrepute and 36 months for violent conduct; why not just announce he was guilty and make it one suspension for all 3 offences? Annoyingly when you click on “full details” for that suspension on the EIHA website, all you get is a Word document with 3 lines of text telling what the suspension is rather than any explanation for the rationale behind it.

 

Now I didn’t see the incident but I am informed that it looked bad, he dislocated the jaw of Ali Band but Band iced the next night. That should factor into it somewhat. I’d likely have banned him for the year and put him on report for 5 years that any incident of a similar or worse nature he’s banned for life.

 

One last one; “Should the Elite League do as the KHL have done and said all netminders must be home grown players?” from Icewolf again

 

At the moment, that’s not a feasible option for British hockey. The number of British netminders capable to play EIHL calibre hockey at the moment numbers 6 if I am very liberal in my estimate (Murphy, Lyle, Craze, Bowns, Lee and Fone).

I think the next step isn’t a blanket “all goalies must be British” rule but what the Polish Superleague tried which was charging teams 2 import slots for an import goalie. We’re still a way off that point mind you but I think that’s a possible next step.

 

Thanks for all those guys and girls; think I’m right? Think I’m talking utter rubbish? Comment below or tweet me. Let’s keep the discussion going!

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