The Monday After: Anti-climactic 

Cardiff and Sheffield have done well with attendances, but who's attracting the crowds? (PHOTO: Helen Brabon)


Weird, isn’t it?

How we’ve gone from anticipation of a title race and a final push for the play-offs to, well, nothing, in the world of the Elite League.

Friday morning’s announcement to cancel the rest of the campaign was the correct one in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and it’s put the clubs into a tricky position of organising flights back for players much sooner than expected.

When you saw sporting events all over the world falling one after one, despite the UK Government’s insistence that we carry on anyway, you knew it was only a matter of time.

For all the league get it in the neck – and trust me, they do frequently – they deserve credit for the proactive approach they took in making this decision.

They’ve taken an individual and collective hit on this and the effects of it will probably be felt in months to come when things eventually calm down and we start to return to normal.

So what do we do about the season now?  

Sheffield Steelers, for all their light hearted claim to be Grand Slam champions, have the Challenge Cup in the bag, but the league becomes more of a tricky one to determine.

Elite League chairman Tony Smith has suggested the league may not take a CHL place, but admits it’s too early to make that decision (PHOTO: Sheffield Steelers)

Tony Smith, the Elite League chairman suggested in an interview with BBC Sheffield the EIHL may forsake their place in the CHL next season, but it’s still up in the air.

How do you determine a “champion” when Cardiff, although top of the table, played three games less and still had a final day showdown with the Steelers to contend with?

Coventry’s great form could have played them into serious contention and perhaps saw them on the brink of delivering an unlikely title.  Truth is, now we’ll never know.

With the play-offs no longer going ahead, then there’s nothing more to be said and written about what could have happened in the race for the top eight.

To me, the only logical conclusion is to declare the season null and void and not have a champion for 2019/20.  With so many uncertain things to consider, you can’t possibly crown someone above everyone else.

If the CHL insist on a UK entrant, you could lean towards Cardiff on the basis of what I’ve outlined above.  It wouldn’t exactly be the right one, but it would be a solution, if nothing else.

Of course, it’s too soon to think that way right now and only when we can solve the issues that remain for this season can we start to look further ahead.

Everyone’s health and safety has to be the priority right now so let’s just help each other, don’t take all the toilet paper and get through what’s going to be a difficult few weeks.

Ice hockey will be there at the end of it, regardless of what happens.

MK Lightning played Sheffield Steeldogs on Saturday, but made the decision to cancel their game with Leeds Chiefs on Sunday (PHOTO: Tony Sargent)

Lack of common sense when it’s needed most

It’s fair to say it was an interesting Sunday on social media as the NIHL sides were at loggerheads over the games taking place.

MK Lightning kicked it off by choosing not to travel to Leeds Chiefs, which prompted a less than friendly response and showing no common sense given the situation going on all over the place.

MK moved to explain their stance and addressed rumours that two of their players had allegedly self-isolated, but still continued to play their game on Saturday with Sheffield Steeldogs.

Then there were further call-offs as Bracknell Bees’ trip to the Steeldogs was scrapped, as was Hull Pirates’ game with Basingstoke Bison.

Bracknell’s Josh Smith explained the decision to not play the game in a statement he posted on Twitter, citing an ongoing risk as the coronavirus continues to impact on the country.

Oxford City Stars amused themselves – and Twitter – with a game of Battleship

Liam Stewart of MK and Basingstoke’s Adam Harding openly spoke out on Saturday about why the games were going ahead (and in the case of Stewart, it had nothing to do with what may or may not be in his bank balance, Mr Simms).

But the finger of blame is being pointed at the EIHA and their decision to continue to follow government guidance on events that attract large crowds.

While they erred on the side of caution in doing so, they completely disregarded the common sense approach when you consider the Elite League, English Premier League, Six Nations Rugby and more or less every other major sporting event decided to take the hit.

I’m not buying clubs happy to take the money from a home gate and not willing to travel to help the other teams.  It’s a situation that’s changing all the time and at the heart of it all, people’s safety and well-being has to be at the forefront.

It’s not been managed well and when you consider that government advice has come under heavy criticism in recent days, no common sense was applied in consideration of having people travel.

Experts say it’s only going to get worse, so let’s hope the right decision is made and soon.

Tigers joy deserved after successful week

Congratulations to Telford Tigers on clinching the NIHL National League title and it ends a great week for them, where they also won the NIHL National Cup.

Tom Watkins and his team have delivered consistently and in the face of some pressure from Swindon Wildcats, who were right behind them for much of the campaign, they’ve overcome it to take the silverware again.

Their success may now make the EIHA feel better about abandoning the rest of the season now, but you can’t deny the results and performances have merited them and their position and they deserve it.

So well done, everyone at the Tigers!

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