Revisiting the age old topic: development of hockey in the UK

index2THE BRITISH ARE COMING, THE BRITISH ARE COMING!

…..or not. The powers that be of the Elite Ice Hockey League came out of a meeting that will input some rule changes starting in the upcoming season. In a nut shell, here they are:

“As from the upcoming season (2014-15), the number of non British-trained players will rise from 11 to 12, but the amount of work-permit players will remain at 11.

The number of non British-trained players will rise to 13 in season 2015-16 and 14 in season 2016-17, with the amount of work-permit players again remaining at 11.

Elite League chairman, Tony Smith, said: “The league agreed that there is a shortage of top-level British players, which keeps the Elite League from being outstanding across the 10 teams.With the demand of the indigenous British player higher than ever in all leagues, and with the potential for EU/dual-national players to develop into national-team players, it was felt this gradual increase would be beneficial to all.”

Oh boy.

There’s two sides to every story and every decision. Let’s try and decipher the other side of the coin before I go into what we already know.

Hockey when you strip off everything until its very first layer is a business. First and foremost above anything else it’s a business. Hockey turned professional back in the early 1900s in order to capitalize revenue on a growing spectator sport and to attempt to control the act of paying star players under the table. Two leagues, the Federal Amateur Hockey League and the Canadian Amateur Hockey League amalgamated in 1905 for this very reason. It was the very beginnings of the National Hockey League that we all know and love today. What does this have to do with the EIHL you ask?

(Photo: Scott Wiggins. www.scottwiggins.co.uk)
(Photo: Scott Wiggins. http://www.scottwiggins.co.uk)

Simple. Imported players are more talented than your British ones, it’s no secret. Talent on the ice means people in the seats; people in the seats means money in the pockets. Before you jump on the greedy owners campaign (which you’re right for the most part), more money allows the EIHL to continue on as a league. The EIHL is not near anywhere stable enough to get by on British talent alone no matter how many players you ice. This rule change gives the league a bit of a safety net for the next couple years in order for you to enjoy the game and the league. Continue reading “Revisiting the age old topic: development of hockey in the UK”