Do we even care about the Challenge Cup any more?

Sheffield Steelers won the last Challenge Cup in March 2020 (PHOTO: Dave Williams)

The quarter final stage of the Challenge Cup begins on Wednesday and after a lengthy process to whittle the nine teams down to eight, does anyone really care anymore?

The argument is there to be made that it’s a trophy to be won and, naturally, it’s the carrot that gets the teams misty eyed over the thought of glory.

But after such a bloated competition to eliminate one team, there’s a valid question over whether it’s even worth the bother any more.

So what do we do with the Challenge Cup?  

At the very least, it needs a drastic overhaul to make it more exciting.  At the other end of the scale, it needs to be abolished completely or incorporated into the play-offs and make it a more meaningful competition.

The Challenge Cup needs changing…or scrapped (PHOTO: Elite League)

The last eight have more or less crept up on us so, at a time when prices on goods are higher, Christmas is on the horizon and people are having to choose what they spend their money on, it will be interesting to see what sort of attendance these games get.

Having a quarter final stage remains questionable, given there was nine teams to begin with, but of course, the teams will argue they need to pay players and other associated costs.

But surely it’s counter productive if fans decide to keep their money for things they regard as higher priority.  Fans may yet choose to pay for a web stream, but without being physically there, you’re looking at money being missed out elsewhere.

Of course, no one is forcing anyone to go to these games, which is important to point out, but after so long without hockey, the lure of the arena, the atmosphere and the big hits is too tempting for some.

We all know how good the Elite League is with the quality on show every week, especially this season, but the Challenge Cup and its very format brings it down.

Manchester Storm were the odd team out in the Challenge Cup, going out at the group stage (PHOTO: Mark Ferriss)

Given the majority of players who have come over are used to playing all season in a regular season and aiming for the play-offs, aside from the obvious, do they get excited about these sorts of secondary competitions?

They’ll tell you they’re always excited to play.  That’s the kind of people they are and reaching the final and playing for a trophy is always an attractive proposition, but is getting there really as exciting as all that?

Finals have been exciting in recent years, with five of the six games since the format was switched to a one-game showpiece ending up as one-goal games, but the competition itself needs more than that.

Next year, it will return to ten teams as Glasgow Clan, who sat out this season, because of their off-ice issues, but it should be the same format.  Either three groups of three or four then the long, turgid road to eight teams.

It either needs overhauled or it needs binned.  But it needs to happen to try and recapture the imagination of the fans again.

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