Its been a long (and finally a hot) summer, but as we see the schedule released and come close to the month-to-go mark for the start of the 2018-19 EIHL season, John has a few things that have been nagging at him since the end of last season.
Over the years, there have been some distinctly clear rivalries between clubs in the EIHL – think Belfast and Nottingham (although the Panthers never really admitted it), or Nottingham and Sheffield (played out these days, perhaps?), and now Belfast and Sheffield (or maybe just Dave Simms).
Do these rivalries add anything to today’s game, or is a league like the EIHL, still firmly in its infancy, just too new to even support the idea of deep seeded rivalries, as opposed to the likes of the vesuvian hatred between some North American clubs that seems to fuel each tie between these sides, regardless of the importance of any particular game? Habs and Leafs, I’m looking at you guys!
Over the 2017-18 season, we saw one of the most bitter of these ‘rivalries’ played out between two clubs for a good number of years, as the Giants and Steelers played pantomime heroes and villains to their own and opposing fans through social media and the ever present panto dame of the EIHL, DoPS. After the Goulakos/Fretter incident early in the season, the stage was set, and the fires were stoked by fan interaction on social media, as well as some less than professional use of the platforms by organisations who should really know better, but chose instead to act like petulant children in an online world. Then, the off season began and we now see local media outlets being drawn into the fray, as local papers to the cities try to one-up the other amid rumours of leaks, all with the hopes of increasing the exposure of the game through this seemingly entirely artificial enmity between the two teams.
It is interesting, because here we have two teams on separate sides of the Irish Sea having a go at each other with little meaning behind it, meanwhile in Scotland, the sense of competitiveness is truly palpable between the likes of Fife and the team formerly known as Braehead. A well-orchestrated tête-à-tête that propagates the relationship, but in a sporting fashion, drawing fans in to the craic of it all, but (generally) in a way that keeps the idea of friendly competition alive. That’s not what we’re seeing between the former two teams is it?
If it is – they’re failing miserably, and one in particular, but who is worse: those who drag the tone down or those who engage with and validate them?
Monty….Monty is gone! This summer, the EIHL announced a new trophy for the victor of the regular season. There’s no doubt that Monty was aged well beyond its years after a decade or so of beer swigging and long drops to the floor, but there was a history there, wasn’t there? You may have seen that we had a bit of a go at the League for this decision on Twitter, but is there a point to the change of trophy? Gary Jackson on KotG makes a good argument for the creation of a new trophy, and one that I certainly can’t and even won’t argue with, especially as a fan of only the last 10 years and only in the EIHL era. I wasn’t there for the ISL days, and yes Monty is a relic of days gone by, but so is the Stanley Cup, and I don’t see the NHL rushing off to buy a new, shiny(er) fascinator for the top of that ever changing stack of rings carrying champion player names. Does history matter so little that when money is available that a new trophy must be procured immediately? Could that money go to something a little more useful, like refereeing or player safety perhaps? I’m not sure a new trophy is, or should be high enough on the list of priorities for this league right now, I’m really not, given the estimates online of the cost of this new trophy. Surely we can all identify one or two areas that the league needs improvement and investment in before opening the coffers to acquire new silverware and a bulk order of Silvo? Regardless, it’s here to stay, and nothing’s going to change that now, no matter how interesting it looks….but maybe just a little familiar to the geeks amongst us?
Regardless, Monty will likely take up residence in Ice Arena Wales from here on, and we look forward to the new trophy being held aloft in Belfast by those clad in teal very soon!
I’m not going to spend long on the news of the EIHL’s new TV deal with Premier Sport’s little brother Freesports UK, as we’ll definitely cover it on next week’s podcast…..
ABOUT BLOODY TIME YOU EEJITS!!
Fans love the off season. Don’t let them tell you otherwise! In the age of social media, the checking every day (or hour) to see if your team is announcing a signing or if someone else in the league has snagged a big name becomes part of life. They’re happening, and don’t get me wrong – I love seeing the names roll in and getting to check out stats and video highlights, but the proof of the summer signings is in how the teams performs on the ice, so I’ll decide how I feel about those returning and those coming in fresh when the skates hit the rink and pucks start hitting twine.
We’ll discuss the movers and shakers of the signings in next weeks’ podcast, but if you’re interested in the meantime, check out Elite Prospects awesome tracker for signings!
What’re your thoughts on the summer? Have you got a different opinion than John on some of the topics above, or is there something else we should talk about? Let us know via Twitter and you could get a shout-out on the next podcast!