Cech this out
What a week for ice hockey in the realms of the mainstream media! I don’t recall seeing this much coverage on the sport. At least not in my time covering it anyway.
But it’s all thanks to one man…Petr Cech, the former Chelsea and Arsenal goalkeeper and his infamous switch to ice hockey from football.
Such was the thirst for content, I appeared on two radio shows after invited to talk about and how great a move it is and from a PR point of view, you have to say it’s an absolute masterstroke from Guildford Phoenix.
Cech retired from football at the end of last season and decided to put more effort into training with the teams in Guildford as a side to his role as Chelsea’s Technical and Performance Advisor.
So, while Frank Lampard’s team are on an international break, Cech got picked up by Phoenix and made his debut last night. As if that wasn’t newsworthy enough, he only won the game for them with saves in the penalty shootout.
You couldn’t write the script and in a sporting week where a massive typhoon could have caused havoc in the Rugby World Cup, marathon runners were breaking records and England losing a football qualifier for the first time in a decade, Cech’s story has captured the imagination.
I could turn this into a moan about the general lack of coverage of the sport at a time when it’s arguably more popular now than it’s been in a long time, but I’ve been down that road before.
— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) October 13, 2019
It won’t stop me momentarily repeating the message in urging the mainstream media to look over here at what this great sport gives so many people.
Anyway, as for Cech, it’s always heartening to see him finally fulfil his dream of playing ice hockey at a competitive level, something he obviously couldn’t do while a footballer.
It’s captured the imagination for a lot of people and especially good that the Spectrum’s attendance on Sunday was boosted by the interest in him, with 909 taking in the game they won 3-2 after a shootout.
His involvement is a wonderful boost for the sport and if it can bring more people to the rinks and arenas up and down the country, that can only be a good thing as a whole.
Fans dreaming of seeing Cech make the step up to play for the Flames, I think, are dreaming a bit too much and while making his way to the EIHL would have the most ardent fantasist’s head explode, it seems likely.
He’s 37 years old with, so far, one game of experience in the sport even semi professionally. No coach, unless Cech really impresses, is going to take a punt on him at the top level.
Let’s just enjoy him now while he brings such a feelgood factor and see how his new career pans out in the sport he’s wanted to play in. It’s the stuff of dreams and one we’re all watching with interest.
Where do the Panthers go from here?
This week, Nottingham Panthers celebrate the career of Robert Lachowicz and former players are arriving to mark the occasion including many members of the Grand Slam/Treble team (delete as appropriate) from 2014.
But the echoes of that team are long gone as the current side sit just above the play-off line with five points from eight games, along with Dundee Stars, the highest amount of league games played.
Current form sees them without a win in their last seven, one success in their last nine outings and according to the tweet below, 26 defeats out of 42 in the calendar year.
The fans aren’t happy and the early signs don’t look good for a team who have high standards and expect themselves to be in the higher echelons.
Take a look at this @PanthersIHC fans. This is the stark reality of where we stand as a club right now.
Competitive, domestic games in 2019. P 42, W 15, L 26, D 1.
We are the worst @officialEIHL team this calendar year and the biggest crime is it’s being allowed to happen. https://t.co/WlAxQr4g3N
— Jono Bullard (@JonoBullard) October 13, 2019
So what gives? You can’t bin a coach in October when they’re just in a job, but if the run continues, don’t be surprised if that becomes a consideration in January at the earliest. After all, Rich Chernomaz suffered the same fate last year.
Two players have gone already, but how many changes do you make to your squad, which is already at a low ebb?
Or do you keep the faith in the hope something turns around in your favour? In an impatient world of sports in 2019, that simply won’t be allowed to happen.
Decisions will be made in any situation to come, but it looks like Panthers are facing the type of season Sheffield Steelers had last season. And it will a long campaign.
Do Clan dare to dream?
They equalled their club record of eight consecutive wins by beating Belfast Giants 3-1 on Sunday and coach Zack Fitzgerald thinks his team’s current run has sent a message to the rest of the league.
But do fans of Glasgow Clan genuinely dare to dream of success at the end of the season?
For me, it’s way too early to even consider that a possibility, but when you realise they’ve doubled their league points tally from last season to this after their first seven games, early evidence suggests they might be challenging at the very least.
Clan came close before in 2015, losing out by a point to Sheffield Steelers that season, but whatever ‘Fitzy’ is doing is working after a fourth straight four-point weekend.
He says his players are making him look good, but I would argue it’s working both ways with the players getting as much out of their coach as he is of them.
On a personal note, I want to wish Clan announcer Kevin McCoskrie a speedy recovery after suffering a heart attack on Saturday. I had the honour of filling in for him on Sunday and I’ll say this, he makes it look incredibly easy.
Get well soon, Kevin!