Goodnight and Good Luck – Greg ChambersPosted: 23/06/2013
The news came out late Friday night that another member of last year’s roster would not be returning with the announcement that Greg Chambers has left the Basingstoke Bison
What have we lost?
The obvious thing the Bison lose is their top scorer. Chambers’ 81 points were the team high including averaging an assist per game. Chambers was the quarterback of the powerplay and arguably the most creative player on the team. In the blink of an eye he could turn on a sixpence or fire a pinpoint pass or score a goal that would drag the team up. His sublime individual goal against Milton Keynes was proof positive of the effect that Chambers can have when on the ice. Alongside Owen at times the two of them were unstoppable and a joy to watch.
Where has he gone?
Chambers was announced by Sheffield Steeldogs on Friday evening, his 3rd EPL team in as many seasons.
Who replaces him?
At the moment it is unknown. There have been rumours so far of Martin Masa (which is somewhat possible), Jonas Höög (which is unlikely) and former Steeldogs star Janis Ozolins (err…what?) as the replacement. There is nothing concrete at this time and it’s likely that the last import slot will be announced closer to the start of the campaign as the build up to the new season reaches a crescendo.
There are few players in my time of watching the Basingstoke Bison that have divided the fanbase more than Greg Chambers. A visionary, lazy, talented, an underachiever, a driving force, plays too much on the periphery; all words or phrases used to describe a player who was our top scorer by 11 points.
It seems crackers on one level, a team finishes second in the league and doesn’t re-sign their top scorer. Given all the issues that the Bison had over the course of the season, Chambers was generally at the heart of things; he scored goals, he tallied assists like they were going out of style and played defence in a tight spot. He is arguably the most naturally gifted player many of us have never seen and yet as has been throughout his tenures, opinion is divided about whether it’s a good thing if he goes or not.
Many factors go into it and I could take lots of time speaking about rumours of off ice antics but I won’t for one simple reason; I don’t care. Banners On The Wall should have its focus on what happens on the ice. Yes there’s half an eye off it as well but the reasons I think that Chambers hasn’t been retained are ice hockey related.
I went back to my piece welcoming Chambers from the start of the season as I was writing this. I asked him outright what he thought of those who criticise his on ice effort. “Everyone has their own opinion, but I personally feel that I play the game to the style that suits me best” was his answer at the time and I think that’s actually a fair one that he gave. Not every player goes into the corners, not every player is gritty. Greg Chambers is a skill player with a certain skill set and it’s worked very well for him. An EIHL title, an EPL double, caps for Great Britain don’t come if you are genuinely lazy as some people claim Chambers is.
So how come he’s not been re-signed? Was Chambers difficult to coach? Maybe. Did Chambers disappear at crucial moments? Arguably yes but so did other big name players at other times. Was he offered more money than Sheffield to go there than come back? Maybe so. The answer is likely something the club won’t ever officially comment on but the world and his wife will likely have a theory as to why.
It has added to the view of some that the Bison are in for a long season though I’m not sure why. As I’ve said above, we won’t find out the import till much nearer the season so people either need to be somewhat depressive about the entire situation till late August/early September or put those feelings on hold and wonder what Sheppard will pull out of his bag of tricks.
As with the loss of Redmond, if you rationalise it down to a hockey decision then you can see why this was done. The team is changing direction and focus and that means players have to be changed, even ones at the top of the scoring charts. It will sit well with some and not with others that Greg Chambers leaves. I think all of us have an opinion on him signing for the Steeldogs. Personally I feel Chambers will add a level of skill lacking from the Steeldogs roster from last season. Ozolins was that catalyst for their offence in 11/12 but when he left for Hull, Campbell wasn’t that man to replace him as it wasn’t his game. Chambers, provided he can get good service from some of Sheffield’s higher end players like Bebris and Wood could easily top his points total from this season just gone. It’ll certainly provide us with a fascinating narrative in Sheffield.
All the best Chubbs.