Welcome to a brand new weekly column here on British Ice Hockey where sports broadcaster Jono Bullard shares his hockey thoughts and opinions on here each week.
Let us know what you think of what Jono has to say by commenting on the article or share your feedback on British Ice Hockey social media channels.
I wanted to address the situations at Hull and Glasgow, beginning with the Pirates. It cannot have been an easy decision for Pirates owner Shane Smith to make in mothballing the club for a year, especially after such a long, enforced lay-off due to a combination of the COVID pandemic and the refurbishment of Hull Arena.
With the rink improvements not scheduled to be complete until 30th October at the earliest, it would mean a condensed schedule with an increased number of less lucrative midweek games, which led Smith to say in his statement to the Pirates fans.
“The financial burden and risk placed onto the Pirates by having to play so many midweek home games which do not generate the gate income means we are at risk of not being sustainable,” he said.
“Once the rink informed us that there was a chance of missing the first 2 months as well as the potential for further delays in the rink being made available to the Pirates it was always going to be difficult to make it work.”
However difficult the decision was to arrive at, I think the Pirates have made the right one. For me, it is far better for the club to suspend operations for a season and come back, than attempt to start the season and fall into financial difficulties further down the line.
While the news will no doubt be a blow to Pirates fans, who haven’t seen their team play since a 6-5 victory over MK Lightning on March 8th 2020, it is better that they have a future in the NIHL National League, albeit from the start of the 2022/23 season.
In Glasgow, the Clan have announced that they will not be starting the Elite League season until November, and as a consequence have withdrawn from the Challenge Cup.
With the club announcing a new head coach in Malcolm Cameron and setting dates for the purchase of season tickets, things are looking positive for a 6th November start.
With Clan still looking to be confirmed as the new operators of Braehead Arena, it makes perfect sense for them to delay their season start and withdraw from the cup to finalise the process.
As with Hull, it couldn’t have been an easy decision to come to for Clan management, but they will have far more administrative and operational challenges should the become arena operators, so delaying their start is more than justified.
It’s almost time for @NIHLhockey National Division fixtures – but to get started, the teams have started to unveil their pre-season games in September.#oneNIHL full list out in the morning. https://t.co/R66OHT6txa
— English Ice Hockey (@EIHA_Official) July 20, 2021
I was very impressed with NIHL National League and their schedule announcement so soon after Hull’s withdrawal from the league.
I was also most impressed with their revelation that the cup competition will take place before the regular season fixtures start as this is something I have wanted to see adopted by the Elite League with the Challenge Cup, similar to how the Autumn Cup was scheduled in the Heineken & ISL days.
With the EIHL fixtures being released on 5th August, I would love to see the Challenge Cup group stages be completed before the start of the regular season, as in the National League.
Personally, I think this will give more exposure to the Challenge Cup as a competition and will also give the teams rosters (Glasgow excepted) a chance to settle prior to the regular season commencing.
Like many people, I would like to know what the Elite League’s roster regulations are for the 2021/22 season.
Changes to team roster regulations for the 2020/21 season were announced by the league in October 2019, the key points being that the maximum number of imports would be 13, teams would be limited to a total number of 18 imported players in a season and the 23 years old and under rule was changing to 25 years old and under.
At the time of writing, we’ve had no confirmation from the league if these rules are staying or if they are being changed.
With clubs in the middle of recruiting for the new season, I feel it would be helpful if the league revealed what the roster regulations are going to be, especially as speculation is rife on social media and forums regarding bench sizes, number of imports and number of British players allowed.
While I appreciate that they’ll be in the middle of planning for the new season, surely a bit of communication to the fans so they can be sure what to expect wouldn’t go amiss.
See you next week
Let us know what you think of what Jono has to say by commenting on the article or share your feedback on British Ice Hockey social media channels. Give him a follow on Twitter @JonoBullard
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