Could the events of the last 12 months end up being a big “reset” for the world of British Ice Hockey? If ever the sport had an opportunity to push that big old button, then this has been it. An enforced lay off from the normal functioning (or non functioning if you prefer) of the game has laid a few things bare.
Indeed, some changes have already happened. The seemingly immoveable object that was Ken Taggart has finally stepped aside as the head of the EIHA. And some may say not before time. Taggart hasn’t always been a popular figure amongst those involved in the game, but he did steer the ship for close to 40 years. Alongside this, long time associate of Taggarts, Charles Dacres also stepped aside from his EIHA board role.
The question of course is how these resignations will affect he governance of the EIHA going forwards. Now, we won’t really know until replacements are voted on and installed. It must be noted though, that 2 new independent non-executive directors have been appointed to the board, which does indicate a fresh approach to the governance.
An IHUK not wanting to be outdone also announced a new chair, in the shape of Clifton Wrottesley. Again, this appointment could point towards some new thinking at the top. However, after more than 20 years involvement in the sport, I’m not exactly holding my breath. I may be surprised of course. Indeed, I’d like to be surprised. But given how the “unification” talks feel apart, I’m not exactly hopeful.
The “Elite” Series is coming!
Yup, after the NIHL managed to get some limited tournaments off the ground to reasonable success and acclaim, the EIHL decided it was time to get in on the act. To this end, we have the upcoming “Elite Series” tournament. 4 teams are confirmed (Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, and Coventry) for the event, which will be held over 5 weeks at the NIC in Nottingham.
This event will be streamed for fans to watch, on a PPV basis, with apparently one or two games being made free to view. Naturally, no pricing has yet been announced (I mean, why do that, right?), which has lead to plenty of conjecture over just how expensive, or not, it will be for those who want to indulge. The EIHL needs to pitch the price just right for this, as ask too much and it will be a bust, yet don’t ask enough and it will also be a bust.
And the rosters? Well, it’s mostly Brits with just 8 imports allowed per side. How this will affect the much vaunted “quality” of EIHL hockey is very much up for question. To try and be “fair” the available Brits were drafted N.A. style by the 4 clubs, which has at least given a spread of decent Brits on each team. Watch this space, as they say.
Of course we also have the question of how the game will look come September. As I said, this has been the perfect time to have a big “reset” for the sport, but sadly, I don’t think much will change. The EIHL will revert to type and end up with 14-15 imports, and the NIHL will plod along with the National doing it’s level best to replace the EPL.