The Monday After: Ch-ch-changes

The Elite League board met and made some changes that could benefit young players in the UK, but is it the start of a growing commitment? (PHOTO: Dave Simms)

Why new EIHL rule changes must be followed through

The new Elite League rules regarding players and their teams last week left something of a mixed reaction, but it’s one that can have benefits in the long term.

Once thing the EIHL has been accused of in the past is there’s not enough being done to help develop the British talent coming through, especially on the back of the recent success of the Great Britain national team.

The alterations to the teams and benches were announced last week following discussions at the monthly board meeting.

One of the standout changes is the provision to develop British players more with the prospect of more game time, which can only be a good thing going forward.

The reduction of the import level to 13 from the current 14 was another thing that stood out and is seen as a way of trying to veer away from the reliance of holding the league up with talented players from outwith these shores.

On the face of it, it’s an exciting prospect, especially if you are a young player making your first steps in the professional game and should help in solidify a position in the future.

But one thing troubles me about it.  What is the long term aim of these changes?

The reduction of the benches is explained by bringing them into line with the NHL and AHL, but will the decease of imports be something that continues over time?

It’s 14 now and goes to 13 next year, but is there a plan to reduce to 12 next year or in 2021 then 11 a year or two after that?

Is there a feeling among the teams now that to give GB every chance of success, that this will be the way to go?

This isn’t made clear, but the new changes may see some older Brits moved on at their respective teams to bring in new blood and the idea of playing four-line hockey means more faith has to be placed in young Brits, who perhaps only play a bit part.

We see from other leagues around the continent that they can bring through and develop homegrown talent, with Denmark a great example of this, with teams in their league having between five and eight imports.

Now, I’m not suggesting the EIHL drop down to those kind of numbers as that would be too much at this stage, but if it’s to be part of a larger plan, then show the commitment and tell us this.

Ice time can be at a premium in this country and facilities can be difficult for some kids trying to play and learn, but if this can be the start of a pathway, then let’s actually do it and start the process of bringing through the next generation.

It’s encouraging to see this from the outside, but it would be disappointing to see it taken away if the league decides in a year’s time that the new rules aren’t working and the import levels, for one, are increased again.

Let’s hope it’s the start of a new wave of talent coming through that can lead the way for more success on the international front.

It was a first ever four point weekend for Leeds Chiefs (PHOTO: Steve Brodie)

Chiefs upsetting the big boys

What a weekend for Leeds Chiefs this weekend as they recorded their first four point weekend in the NIHL National League season.

Friday’s result at Sheffield Steeldogs was replicated with another fine away win at Milton Keynes Lightning, dumping Lewis Clifford’s side to the foot of the table.

It’s taken time, but it looks at though the team are finally gelling as Zajac gets his message across to his players and while the return home has been delayed, it puts them in a better position as the games continue to come thick and fast.

Adam Barnes was a highlight for them, scoring four goals and one assist in a great weekend so now the challenge is keeping it up and help them climb the table, but they’ll have to do it the hard way.

A trip to second top Telford followed by another meeting with the Steeldogs on Sunday.  The Chiefs are definitely getting used to the big games in this league.

Jonathan Phillips is one of the legends of the UK game after making 1,000 EIHL appearances (PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

Class act Phillips a real EIHL role model

If one person deserved their moment in the limelight, it’s Sheffield Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips after notching up an incredible 1,000th appearance in the Elite League.

As Ron Shudra said in our interview with him over the weekend, for someone to get to that kind of landmark in any sport is a magnificent achievement and Phillips deserves all the tributes paid to him.

Team-mates love playing with him and off-ice staff love working with him and my own experience of Jonathan is a positive one.  Whenever I contact him with some half-baked idea for a story, he’s always willing to help out.

He’s a leader in the true sense of the word and without a doubt, stands as one of the greats of the game in this country of all time.  I think you’ll be hard pushed to argue with that and for someone who claims he isn’t very good at sport, he’s certainly found his niche.

Well done, Jono!

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