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  1. #551
    In the end, as a 45-year-old male who grew up a nominal-to-utterly-bitter enemy of all teams, I can testify from the bottom of my soul...

    Yes. It is a good thing that the Philadelphia Eagles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Washington Capitals all won their respective league championships.

    Also, kind of interesting and serendipitous, that the NHL team with the worst-ever record in an inaugural season in any sport would beat the team with the best-ever record in an inaugural season in any sport.

    I also think, if you had to pick between being a Pens or Caps fan...would you choose winning for 8 years in a row, winning a bunch of cups and laughing at the futility of the other team...or would you choose the other team, who finally got the last laugh and won the big one in the end, exorcising themselves in the baptismal fountains while celebrating with crowds probably bigger than a presidential inauguration?

    I mean, on June 12 2018, I'd choose to be a Caps fan in a heartbeat.

  2. #552
    Ray de Galles's Avatar
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  3. #553
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    Terrific news for the sport in the UK

    Here’s an unbiased view from a prominent North American prospect guru

    Liam Kirk (No. 189): Kirk being picked is a great story as a player who came up and played this season in Britain. Is he a real player? I’m not sure. He’s got some speed, some skill and isn’t a small guy, but in the games I watched, I saw the occasional flash of talent from him but nothing consistent in terms of showing he can drive offense at an NHL level. Some scouts I’ve talked to feel the level he played at suppressed his play, but others were more skeptical.
    Arizona’s ECHL (3d tier) affiliate is the Rapid City Rush of South Dakota, which will likely be his first destination.. f he does welll there, the next step is the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners. He’s going to get used to wide open spaces.

  4. #554
    Hot Pepsi's Avatar
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    Tavares signs with the Leafs.

  5. #555
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    For significantly less money than the Islanders were offering.

    Then again, that's understandable.

    https://twitter.com/91Tavares/status/1013468844034179072

  6. #556
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    That picture makes me feel old. Not because of anything to do with the Leafs, but because he has a Star Wars ship from the prequels. THE PREQUELS.

    I think he lost faith in the Islanders as an organization - at least in the short run - and who can blame him? Besides, the Islanders are probably better off starting over with the prospects they have. It's not like keeping Tavares was going to make them a contender.

    I'm not sure who else was really in the race, but my understanding is the Lightning pretty much gave up on him by spending the money on guys they already have and on their defense, which they should.

    One interesting scenario I read was that should the Leafs still fail to win a cup or at least go deep into the playoffs - the fans will likely give Tavares more credit than he deserves and Matthews more blame than he deserves because the former is local the latter is an American and then Matthews will be disenchanted and leave in FA to Arizona. Then again, the Coyotes may not still be there by then and its not a given that Matthews will want to play for them even though he's from Arizona.

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  8. #558
    Amor de Cosmos's Avatar
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    Yes. He always looked and acted older than his team-mates to me. Some people are just born to maturity I guess.

    RIP

  9. #559
    Hot Pepsi's Avatar
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  10. #560
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    Cardiff Devils v Fizzy Poison Salzburg in the Champions Hockey League is live on Freesports in the UK at 7:25pm tomorrow.

  11. #561

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    Quote Originally Posted by ursus arctos View Post
    Terrific news for the sport in the UK

    Here’s an unbiased view from a prominent North American prospect guru



    Arizona’s ECHL (3d tier) affiliate is the Rapid City Rush of South Dakota, which will likely be his first destination.. f he does welll there, the next step is the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners. He’s going to get used to wide open spaces.
    He'll be spending this season with the Peterborough Petes of the OHL.

    Kirk has good on ice vision and nice hands. Also a decent level of fitness. His size counts against him so his first season in the OHL will primarily be aimed at improving his skating and bulking him up.

    It's good for the sport, although we've tried twice before with Tony Hand and Colin Shields. Hand will always be the great what if? If he could have got over his crippling home sickness and stuck it out in the WHL farm team then he could probably have had a good career in North America. It's understandable why in the mid 80s a kid from Edinburgh who had grown up at the rink and who was playing with his brother and cousin would struggle to settle away from home for the first time. Kirk shouldnt face the same kind of problems fitting in, particularly when family are only a budget flight away or on the end of a Skype video call.

    Interesting to see if any of the other GB u18 and u20 players can step up to a higher level. Cole Shudra is a prospect and Keiran Brown looks really good. Even if they don't go on to play in top leagues, we need to improve the standard of British player making it to the EIHL.

  12. #562
    ad hoc's Avatar
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    Welcome BallochSonsFan. It's great to have more ice hockey fans on from different leagues

  13. #563
    ad hoc's Avatar
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    For reasons I have no knowledge of the Romanian champions ("us") do not feature in this year's Continental Cup

  14. #564
    ursus arctos's Avatar
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    rInteresting move to go to Peterborough. Definitely a step up from Rapid City, though likely more playing time than in Tucson.

    ad hoc, I don't know what happened to "you", but do see that MAC Budapest are in the competition and have three players from Csíkszereda.
    Last edited by ursus arctos; 11-09-2018 at 19:33.

  15. #565
    ad hoc's Avatar
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    In previous years the Romanian (and Hungarian) champions have featured. Despite playing in the same league for much of the season, there is still a seperate Romanian and Hungarian champion unconnected to the results of the MOL/Erste League or whatever it's called now

  16. #566

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    Quote Originally Posted by ad hoc View Post
    Welcome BallochSonsFan. It's great to have more ice hockey fans on from different leagues
    Cheers ad hoc.

    I've been going to Braehead (now renamed Glasgow) Clan games since our first season in the Elite League, although I missed most of last year because I couldn't face watching us struggle every week. I tend to follow the DEL more than the NHL. Always say I'm going to try to watch more NHL games but I follow Adler Mannheim regularly online and I'll typically watch them on a Friday/Sunday. Been to Mannheim for a couple of DEL games in Jan 17 and Dec 17 and I'm going back for more this December. I also try to get to at least a couple of Solway Sharks NIHL games. It was great when Dumbarton FC were playing Queen of the South in the league because Palmerston backs on to the Dumfries Ice Bowl. Sadly due Dumbarton's relegation to League One I won't get any double headers this year.

  17. #567
    ursus arctos's Avatar
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    There's something weird about the qualifying process because MAC are in despite losing 4-1 to DVTK Jegesmedvék in last year's Erste Liga Final.

  18. #568
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    Yzerman has stepped down as GM of the Lightning. Disappointing. Not sure what his motivation is.

  19. #569
    Ray de Galles's Avatar
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    Welcome BSF, good to have another British hockey watcher contributing - especially from Scotland.

    Any insight on the Edinburgh shambles, with the Murrayfield Racers tribute act playing out of their titular rink in the SNL, the Capitals seemingly dead and no representation from the city in the EIHL.

  20. #570
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    Welcome!

    I'm sad to hear about the state of the professional game in Britain. I guess the problem is a lack of facilities and/or stable sensible ownership? Kind of a catch-22.

  21. #571
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
    Yzerman has stepped down as GM of the Lightning. Disappointing. Not sure what his motivation is.
    His family still lives in Detroit - though is daughters are all in college - and he wants to spend more time there. Maybe he'll take over as GM of the Red Wings some day, but that's not happening now. He'll still advise the Bolts' new GM Julien BriseBois. He was going into the last year of his contract and I guess he felt like he wasn't going to renew so it makes sense to pass it off now to BriseBois before some other team hired him away.

  22. #572

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray de Galles View Post
    Welcome BSF, good to have another British hockey watcher contributing - especially from Scotland.

    Any insight on the Edinburgh shambles, with the Murrayfield Racers tribute act playing out of their titular rink in the SNL, the Capitals seemingly dead and no representation from the city in the EIHL.
    Only opinion Ray. Facts are relatively thin on the ground.

    Scott Neil was struggling to run the Caps. There was an unpaid tax bill of 5 figures, rumoured to be more than £25,000. HMRC submitted a winding up petition to court that was duly granted. A company called Coolhouse Marketing was set up to run the Caps until the end of last season. In the mean time the rink had put the ice time contract out to tender.

    David Hand set up Racers Leisure with the intention of bidding for the ice contract and running an Edinburgh team in the EIHL. He won the ice time contract with Murrayfield Ice Rink. That left Coolhouse Marketing with the EIHL membership and, in theory at least, the Caps brand name but nowhere to play and David Hand with an ownership vehicle and an ice time contract but no league membership. What makes things worse is that Scott Neill of the Caps and David Hand of the Racers are cousins. David Hand being brother of Tony Hand and head of the Scottish Ice Hockey Association. Then there's the issue where Scott Neil's family are part owners of Murrayfield Ice Rink. I can't remember if it's his wife or his mother who has a small stake (around 20% ownership).

    Then it gets messy.

    David Hand reckons that he had 6 figure finance guaranteed for the new season and a viable business plan based on average crowds of 1000 fans per game. Towards the end of hockey in Edinburgh the home support numbered in the low hundreds but 1000 a game doesnt seem like an overly ambitious number. Similarly £100,000 or whatever the guaranteed finance was wouldn't see the Racers through a full EIHL season but it would have got them up and running and seen them through their first few months. Hand also claims that they were close to agreeing a headline naming sponsor for a very good financial deal. The problem was that the EIHL rejected his advances out of hand. They never actually had a proper face to face meeting where he was allowed to pitch his membership application to the league and to the other owners.

    It gets worse.

    There are suggestions that the league tried to intervene in the ice time contract issue and offered to underwrite the contract to the tune of £50,000 if Murrayfield would cancel their deal with the Hands (Tony Hand having now become involved with Racers Leisure) and do a deal with Coolhouse Marketing. Coolhouse offered Scott Neil a position with the Caps despite there being a chance that Neil will face disqualification from being a director/holding a senior business management position thanks to the Caps being wound up owing HMRC tax. Leaving a big unpaid tax bill is the kind of thing that gets you disqualified with Companies House. David Hand allegedly contacted the league to ask if they'd arrange a discussion/meeting with Coolhouse and themselves so that all 3 parties could negotiate some kind of merger between the 2 competing Edinburgh hockey businesses but that his offer was never passed on to Coolhouse or to Scott Neil. The league also approached Hull to offer them a place in the league but Hull turned them down. Hull have said that they'd be willing to move up to the EIHL under the Hull Pirates brand/ownership but only with sufficient time to plan and on the basis of the new Hull Arena (5000 capacity) getting the green light and actually being built.

    That left Coolhouse with nowhere for the Caps to play hockey and Racers Leisure with an ice contract but no league to play in. The Racers approached the EIHA to try to join the National Ice Hockey League. Given the collapse of the previous premier league, the NIHL is the 2nd tier of UK hockey. I get to a few Solway Sharks games a year in NIHL 1 North but there seemed to be no appetite for adding another Scottish team despite travelling from Edinburgh to the likes of Sheffield or even Hull being no worse than Dumfries to Sheffield or Hull. There was also no appetite in having SIHA's David Hand involved in a league competition run by the EIHA. Ultimately the Racers ended up playing Scottish National League (run under the banner of David Hand's Scottish Ice Hockey Association) whilst also playing as a guest in the NIHL cup.

    Could Elite League hockey have worked in Edinburgh? Maybe. The city and the surrounding areas would probably cover around 600,000 people. Surely that's a big enough catchment area for a team to draw a sustainable crowd? That said, Edinburgh were never big draws back in the glory days of the Heineken or Benson and Hedges leagues in the 70s and 80s. Murrayfield needs refurbished to meet the expectations of folk who aren't hardcore hockey fans. Braehead/Glasgow Clan relied on former Ayr and Paisley fans and guys like me who weren't UK hockey fans but who watched the NHL on channel 5 in the 90s for the first season or two in the Elite League. We made an obvious push to attract folk who weren't traditional sports fans as a way of growing the club and those folk have expectations of a comfortable night out. I love my ramshackle football grounds and old fashioned hockey barns but a lot of new fans don't and Murrayfield was an issue in attracting new people to the sport. It doesnt really sit well with me that the league adopted an "anybody but Hand" approach. Scott Neil's Capitals collapsed every season that I've followed UK hockey but the league still saw him as a better option than the Hands. Our first season they ended up losing almost all their imports, playing mostly locals and taking some double figure hidings. That was damaging for the sport in the UK. Neil had to go and perhaps David Hand wasnt the best option but he should have got the chance to make his pitch to the league. He deserved a fair shot at selling his plan and I don't think he got that.

    Edinburgh should be able to sustain an EIHL team. It needs new ownership who can refurb Murrayfield or find somebody willing to build an arena. I'm surprised that there isnt an arena at Ocean Terminal in Leith as it's an ideal spot to go with the other attractions there. It needs some new marketing ideas to attract folk who arent traditionally sports fans. Looking further afield it's also tragic that there isnt top flight hockey in the north east of England. Whitley Bay has the Warriors in NIHL 1 and Billingham has the Stars. Durham doesnt even have a rink anymore and the Newcastle Metro Arena aren't interested in getting a hockey team as tenants. We could see a new team in Edinburgh in the future to balance things up when Hull join the league and we see expansion in the likes of Liverpool (new rink being built) and London (Neil Black is actively trying to get a team in London) but that's going to be years down the line. I don't think UK hockey is necessarily in bad shape but the EIHL needs stability for a few seasons and ultimately it needs to grow to either 14 or 16 teams. The gap between EIHL and NIHL hockey is also big - I'd worry that it's too big for most young prospects to bridge and that without a 4 import semi-pro second tier to replace the premier league (that was really a replacement for the old British National League) then we'll see good young players stay in the NIHL rather than risking the step up to the Elite League.

  23. #573

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
    Welcome!

    I'm sad to hear about the state of the professional game in Britain. I guess the problem is a lack of facilities and/or stable sensible ownership? Kind of a catch-22.
    The game isnt in a terrible state. It's just not in rude health.

    Nottingham are a stable, well run club. Sheffield haven't phoenixed for a few years and despite the characters involved with the Steelers being marmite folk (love them or hate them), Sheffield are doing ok. Belfast went through a weird incident where their owner was found to have been on a Florida sex offenders register. The Odyssey Trust who own the arena flat out cancelled all contracts with him and the players threatened to walk. The league stripped him of the Giants' league membership and the Odyssey Trust stepped in to run the club. That all ended very quietly despite the previous owner being very vocal at the time.

    Glasgow Clan are doing ok. Coventry went through a poor patch and aren't close to the same club as they were under Paul Thomson but are hanging in there. We've got Fife and Dundee who routinely complain about the cost of EIHL membership but who are still competing. Milton Keynes and Guildford joined and a new Manchester club are in the EIHL. Cardiff are probably the success story given their new ownership group with ties to NHL hockey (Calgary possibly?) and the new Ice Arena Wales. We've got talk of a new arena in Hull, plans progressing for a new arena in Liverpool and the possibility of one in Bristol. London may also happen.

    But the gap between EIHL and NIHL (tier 1 and tier 2 in UK hockey now) is huge. I do wonder whether enough young players will be able to make the step from one to the other? Liam Kirk will be an interesting test and there are guys like Cole Shudra who are looking to play more EIHL hockey. Can they make the step up? Facilities and coaching will always hold us back. Our juniors are lucky if they play 30 competitive games a year, even up to organised U18 level. The OHL will have guys who are 16-20 playing 68 league games plus play-offs. You can do all the coaching and practice you want but nothing is going to come close to giving our prospects 3-4 years experience playing 60+ games a year. By the time our prospects turn 20 they've played about a quarter of the hockey that a Canadian or Scandinavian youngster has played.

  24. #574
    ursus arctos's Avatar
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    Really valuable insight, BSF

    The sheer volume of competitive hockey that Canadian kids play is indeed daunting, even for US kids that have played in high school (thus the existence of the USHL).

  25. #575
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
    His family still lives in Detroit - though is daughters are all in college - and he wants to spend more time there. Maybe he'll take over as GM of the Red Wings some day, but that's not happening now. He'll still advise the Bolts' new GM Julien BriseBois. He was going into the last year of his contract and I guess he felt like he wasn't going to renew so it makes sense to pass it off now to BriseBois before some other team hired him away.
    You could have just said Montreal and saved yourself the characters.

    BTW, Pacioretty dumped for prospects, another season where my attention will be minimal. I'll probably carry on like this until Bergevin is gone.

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