A huge night of firsts for hockey on Sunday September 13th! The Manchester Storm made their first appearance on Premier Sports TV, and it was our first Elite Ice Hockey League game in glorious HD on the new channel! Here’s the highlights as the Storm hosted the Dundee Stars – Paul Adey and I in the commentary box:
There are nights in your career when you have to pinch yourself and make sure you’re not dreaming. I’ve had that feeling a few times – calling Gold Medal hockey games in Sochi for example. Saturday night September 5th, 2015 – Braehead Arena – commentating on the Braehead Clan hosting ERC Ingolstadt – is also now one of those moments! See why here:
There are always great characters around our wonderful game! Growing up in Newfoundland, the tough, but skilled players were always respected. If these tough, skilled heroes were charismatic, and could tell a good story – then they were household names! Probably one of the most well known Newfoundlanders who had all the attributes I just mentioned, is Terry Ryan.
Tough, skilled, and certainly the man can tell a good story! Murph was lucky enough to catch up with his friend, and fellow Newfoundlander recently – enjoy their chat here:
Murph On Ice: First off TR – thanks for joining me on the website!
Terry Ryan: No problem Murph – thanks for having me on.
MOI: Let’s dive right in! With the NHL Draft this past summer in Florida – let’s think back 20 years – tell us a bit about the day leading up to, and the big moment for you on your draft day TR.
TR: The whole draft year was surreal. For Daymond Langkow, Brian Boucher and I (three Tri-City Americans who all went in the first round that year), it was great that we all got to experience the ups, downs,and overall pressure of the whole thing together. It can be overhwelming. We also all gained momentum during the season and ended up being selected higher than most people would have thought if you’d asked them at the beginning of the 1994-95 campaign. There are some humorous stories about that time period in my book – not that I am trying to go out of my way to promote it here, but you asked, and I can’t think of a better way to answer and summarize the draft than by reading the junior excerpts from Tales of a First Round Nothing! I mean, you’re real young, right? High school. So if anyone that age says the draft wasn’t an incredible experience, they are either lying or spoiled. The NHL is where it’s at man!
MOI: When you heard it was the Habs – how exciting was that – an Original Six club, such history! What went through your mind as you put the Montreal jersey on that day?
TR: I expected to be taken at number nine to Boston – I loved Cam Neely as a kid and with the name Ryan in a place so rich in Irish heritage, you have to wonder if that wouldn’t have been a perfect fit – or number 11 to Dallas. Montreal were one of the only teams not to interview me. On the elevator on the way to my seat, Doug Robinson, Montreal’s head scout, called me Shane (Doan). As Montreal’s pick drew closer, the cameras all came closer to me and were staring me in the face for a few minutes before they said my name. I guess someone has some inside info or zoomed in on Montreal’s notes, Jacques Demers and Serge Savard had notes all over their table, and apparently liked myself and Radek Dvorak. Those few minutes are indescribable. Withheld elation. I am sure you could see my grin in the cheap seats. Montreal were my favourite team growing up, so I can’t really explain the feeling. So much happening at once; official NHL status, being a member of such a respected, historic franchise, knowing you’ll be at camp with legends in a cool city, finally joining my father and a handful of other Newfoundlanders as an NHL draft pick…and it also marked a historic moment in our province’s sports history – I became the highest drafted player to ever be born and bred in Newfoundland. I am still proud of that, and I know it’ll be tough to beat. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, love, support, and timing. Timing is so very important. Anything from booze to women to laziness can throw the train off the track for any young kid, and things like having the right billets are seldom spoken about. I know I was good but I am also very aware I was lucky – everything has to go right. McDavid is one thing, but for any normal kid – even the star prospects – if you get a major injury in a draft year, teams may not take you if for no other reason than lack of vision.
All this being said, I can’t wait until the moment some young Newfoundlander goes 7th! It’ll happen someday, hopefully I am alive to see it. John Slaney went 9th (1990) and Dan Cleary went 13th (1997) so it may not be as outlandish as some people think for a kid on the Rock to go 7th…or even 1st! Remember, Sid the Kid’s roots are in Nova Scotia which isn’t too far off.
MOI: Before the glitz and glamour of the draft day a few months back, for McDavid, Eichel and all of this year’s crop of stars, comes a lot of hard work. How has junior hockey changed from your days trying to get noticed by NHL scouts, and tell us about the preparation and sacrifices young player make to go in the first round?
TR: I guess with the recent trend of hockey analytics, players are better conditioned than ever before. That’s not gonna change with each passing year. But we trained – we had the combine stuff too. We had to do the v02 Max test, the “Windgate”, all that, a half dozen times a year if we did it once. We had a strength and conditioning coach in Montreal (Stephane Dube) and he was pretty good. We were training 12 months a year to some degree. I think one major change is the “prospect” camps at the beginning of July. Jesus that’s early. I used to enjoy a break off the ice – I played soccer, baseball, and ball hockey at high levels and stuck to those during the summer – just to get a mental break. We all still trained off-ice, just not as much on. I remember one summer staying in Montreal all summer and not touching the ice from May – July. Now, it seems the serious players are constantly trying to get an edge and don’t take a break. In my mind, this reflects too much of a soldier-like mentality. It reminds me that hockey is a business, and each player is being cultivated to reach their maximum human potential in a robotic-like way. This is great for the actual physical specimen you are cultivating, but the process is mentally fatiguing to say the least. If I was coming up today I’d stay focused and train hard yes, but family, friends, and hobbies like travelling have to be important parts of life as well. Strong body, Strong mind.
That being said, physical training is just one part of sacrifice. Other examples? Leaving home at a young age, staying away from/saying no to peer pressure are important obviously. And most fans don’t stop and think about how old kids are in their draft years – only 18. They are graduating from high school. So, without naming specifics, the whole sexual frustration thing can be overwhelming. You are just starting to deal with feelings about the opposite sex, many guys return home to be with their girlfriends for example, and also trying to graduate from high school with good marks, while scouts travel from city to city judging you on how well you put a rubber disc into a cage six feet wide and four feet high.
MOI: Talk a little bit about the jump from junior star to rookie at an NHL camp? What kind of thoughts are with a young NHL’er those few days with the big club?
TR: Well, for me, it wasn’t only the fresh new glitz and glamour of any old NHL camp – it was Habs camp. So, take all those emotions that would come with attending, say, Tampa Bay camp, and multiply them by 100. I mean no disrespect to any other team because I know most organizations run a real professional ship, I just mean the whole media presentation and emotion surrounding Montreal Canadiens camp at the dawn of a new season is out-of-this-world. It was pressure-filled, yes, but there are way more good memories than bad ones as far as I recall. I loved the energy in the city in the fall too; still do.
As far as on-ice play goes, I never really got used to the whole “NHL” thing until my second camp. It was so overwhelming the first time around, all I did was dump the puck in, chase it, block shots, all that. Easy hockey. I was intimidated by their skill and reputation. The next year, I spent most of the summer in Montreal, to feel more comfortable in the environment. I was right – although my career never panned out as expected, I don’t recall being in awe of the situation any more than the next guy after year one. But, I mean, it is the NHL – there’s always gonna be a level of “I can’t believe I’m in the show” feelings as you throw on the uniform. Great club to be a part of.
MOI: The NHL career for you was a bit up and down – politics, coaches with agendas etc. But looking back – even though it was short lived – can you recall it with great pride and happiness, or is there some things you wish you could have changed?
TR: Well, it’s hard to look back objectively to be honest. I have a son and daughter now, and any changes I could make if I had a time machine would lead to a different scenario. Like my grandfather, Bill Norris, who fought in WWII aboard the famous HMS Bulldog, used to say, “Terry, be careful what you wish for”. He’d say it after I’d be up all night stressed about a provincial championship game or something , wishing victory or even injury to other team’s players! Yes, I remember wishing Jon Schwartz, of the Avalon Capitals hockey team, would hurt his foot so we’d have an easier ride…I was ten, cut me some slack (laughs). He’d say what goes around comes around, which I interpret today as karma. So, in my eyes it’s the same sort of thing. If I frame my life in terms of “failed hockey star” it can be like a negative blanket that’s hard to escape from, given how important hockey is in my life, as my son is up and coming, and my daughter may also play. In reality though, if you had told me when I was a kid that I’d play a game for the Habs, I’d have been thrilled. And the kid in me still looks back with a smirk when I think about that accomplishment. My grandfather would be proud. I am not religious really, but I am spiritual, and I believe there’s a consciousness that continues after we pass on, and I truly believe he is aware of all of this.
So, in a nutshell, I look back with pride. The only thing that sometimes eats me up a little is when people forget how good a player I was because of the low amount of NHL games. Look, I am not being cocky – I have no reason to given my position. But I was a real good player growing up and it was no fluke I went where I did in the draft. At 19, when I got my first concussion (missed almost a year with post concussion syndrome), injuries started. I played hard and dangerously, and it slowed me down. My “career ender” was when I was 23 – a high ankle sprain – but I still play senior hockey at AAA level because I love the game. Less games, less wear and tear, and I get by. I can’t turn one way very well and I can’t hit from my left side. Anyone who saw me play the way I can at a high level, saw me play two decades ago.
MOI: Toughest guy you ever dropped the gloves with and why?
TR: Hmmm – technically I dropped ’em with Probert, and he’s the one people tend to use to measure toughness, at least in my era. We didn’t get free and throw ’em though so I’d have to say Tie Domi – given the setting. I fought him three times, in back to back to back years, all in Maple Leaf Gardens (95,’96,’97) and all in his prime. He had a face like a furnace and fantastic centre-of-gravity because of that short, bullish stature. He is also a lefty, and was one of the first fighters to grab the jersey on the non-traditional side – he’d reach across his body – and he’d pull you into the punch as he was throwing, making the blow that much harder. He had a great chat with me in the box too (laughs).
MOI: Best player you’ve ever played against in your career, and the best player you’ve ever had as a team-mate?
TR: Well, I played one game against Mario – he had four goals – and one against Gretz – he scored three. I hate to compare greatness, and hate comparing these two beauties. Wayne and Mario are still the most graceful athletes I’ve seen playing such a ferociously physical game. It’s beautiful to watch those old tapes. They were so much better than everyone else. Yes, goalies weren’t as good – or at least big but The Great One and the Magnificent One were way ahead of their peers stats-wise. It’s all relative. I like to use Babe Ruth as a comparison. One year, when he hit a whopping 60 home-runs, the dude who came second hit 14. So, to me, Ruth’s 60 dingers are way more important than a juiced up Barry Bond’s 73, given the timing of it all. It’d be like someone like Crosby had 120 points this past year – 30+ ahead of everyone else. But as good as Crosby is, he’s not rattling off scoring titles every year. For like 15 years it seemed like it was Gretzky or Lemieux (if Mario was healthy).
As a team-mate? Well I loved playing with Daymond Langkow and we absolutely scorched the WHL as 17 year olds in 1995. He had 140 points – 67 goals. He was underrated in the NHL too – lots of great seasons of 60+ pts. But overall I guess I’d have to say Mark Recchi maybe, given his place in the hockey world. His talent, longevity, and leadership abilities produced multiple Stanley Cups and helped many young players grow into stars.
MOI: Any players not named McDavid or Eichel from this years draft just passed, that you think will be big names in the NHL in the future and why?
TR: Oh yes, many of ’em. If I had to pick one I guess I’d say Lawson Crause. He plays like me so maybe I’m biased, but I do think he’ll blossom into a great NHL’er. He’s very determined and a very fierce competitor.
Also, I think Nathan Noel, who is from Newfoundland, will sign with an NHL team after a great (laughs).
Oh – I could go on and on but Dylan Strome is way better than people think he is…all the attention has gone to the other guys surrounding him in the draft – even Mitch Marner because he went to Toronto. But man every time I watch Strome he does something that impresses me.
MOI: You’ve had an interesting path after hockey getting your degree, working in television production, and of course becoming an author. Tell us about some of your favourite moments on Republic of Doyle, and how fans overseas and back home can get your book if they want a great hockey read?!
TR: Oh, God – there are so many moments that were memorable on that show. My pal Allan Hawco plays the lead character, Jake Doyle, and hooked me up with an opportunity to work on ROD (Republic Of Doyle) a few years ago. I guess my favourite part of the process was stunt acting. I got to work on-screen on a half dozen occasions and it was exhilarating to put it mildly. If you’d like my book, shoot me a message on twitter – it’s @terryryan20 – or check on-line at ECW publishing. If you’re in North America it may be at your local Chapters store.
Who knows, maybe I’ll be across the pond at an arena near you soon! If so I’ll have books and stories – come have a chat!
MOI: Well I know you’d love – Ireland! Hopefully see you there someday – cheers for the chat!
TR: Cheers Murph – always good to talk hockey with you. Take care bud.
The Elite Ice Hockey League and Premier Sports are excited to announce a new television deal for the upcoming season.
Premier Sports will once again be your home for EIHL hockey for the 2015-16 campaign.
Some great regular-season games, plus the whole of the playoff finals weekend held at the National Ice Centre on 2nd and 3rd April 2016, will be shown live on Premier Sports.
Elite League chairman, Tony Smith, said: “It is brilliant news that we will be showcased on Premier Sports again.
“They have been a great media partner for us and we are excited to be working with them again in 2015-16.
“It’s excellent to get our sport out there and for people to get a taste of live Elite League ice hockey.
“The scheduled live fixtures will showcase some of our sport’s greatest rivalries and the league’s newcomers Manchester Storm will be shown live in the first game of the season.
“All 10 teams will be shown live across the season, so there is something for everyone.”
Premier Sports is now available in HD for Sky and Premier Player customers – and the EIHL games will look magnificent on the new HD platform.
Premier are also pleased to announce 20 Champions Hockey League fixtures will be available on the network, including all Braehead Clan and Sheffield Steelers contests.
For the hockey fans in the UK and Ireland it doesn’t end there though. Premier will also showcase 40 Swedish Hockey League games, over 550 top-flight NHL games – with 15 a week once the season gets underway – including the Outdoor Classic and Stanley Cup Playoffs.
There’s also Great Britain’s games from the Division 1B of the World Championship and 15 matches from the top pool IIHF World Championship.
That’s over 600 hockey games from some of the best leagues in the world and the Elite Ice Hockey League will be front and centre for a third season with on-site coverage from Aaron Murphy and the Premier Sports team, with all the intermission analysis, and special guests that have made coverage a success the first two seasons.
Richard Webb, operations manager at Premier Sports, said: “We take a lot of pride in providing plenty of hockey for our loyal viewers.
“Hockey is better in HD and this season we’ll have almost 600 games for viewers to enjoy in this new viewing experience.
“The EIHL has been a great partner for the past two seasons and we really wanted to show the league in HD.
“With our coverage of the EIHL and the guaranteed eight CHL games featuring the Clan and Steelers, customers will have 20 games featuring their favourite EIHL teams.
“The playoff finals weekend will once again be live entirely, with over 12 hours of coverage from the NIC – and that was a highlight last year having the semi-finals on TV for the first time in history.
“We can’t wait to get the season going September 13th, with the new Manchester Storm club being showcased for the first time too. There’s an exciting season ahead on Premier Sports.”
Premier Sports Elite League 2015-16 schedule
Sunday 13th September 2015 – Manchester Storm v Dundee Stars
Friday 16th October 2015 – Belfast Giants v Cardiff Devils
Saturday 7th November 2015 – Fife Flyers v Edinburgh Capitals
Saturday 12th December 2015 – Coventry Blaze v Cardiff Devils
Sunday 27th December 2015 – Nottingham Panthers v Sheffield Steelers
Friday 15th January 2016 – Braehead Clan v Manchester Storm
Neil Russell has been appointed as GM and Commercial Manager of the Manchester Storm.
Russell has an extensive background in sales, marketing and business development.
He has worked in the medical sector for much of his career, but also has experience in live sports broadcasting with Premier Sports.
Russell covered the CHL and EIHL last season and has also been lead commentator on GiantsLive TV.
He said: “This is a majorly exciting move for me and to be involved within ice hockey full time is a dream come true.
“I met with the ownership group last week and I was very impressed with everything that they had to say about their plans and ambitions for the club moving forwards.
“This is a very exciting time to be joining the Storm and all the fans can be assured that there’ll be nobody that will work harder than me in ensuring we make a success of this venture.
“Omar (Pacha) is working 24-7, along with Pete Russell – to ensure we have a competitive team on the ice this coming season and also one that you, the fans connect with.
“I have seen first hand in Belfast the benefits of hiring the right guys are to the success of a franchise, players who ‘get it’ are vitally important.
“I think it’s important that a team is active in the community on a regular basis but also engages with you, the fans.
“I can’t wait to get over to Manchester and get started in the GM role. I’ll be organising a fan event mid-August time and I look forward to meeting all of our fans at that.”
Director of hockey for Silverblades and Planet Ice brands, Pete Russell, said: “We are delighted to announce the appointment of Neil Russell. Structure is vital to any team or business to create the foundation to build upon.
“The appointment of Neil is key to this structure and moving the whole brand and commercial side forward.
“Neil has a wealth of experience in various roles and is a real team guy.
“He is an upbeat, hard working and a driven individual who has always had an ambition of getting into the day-to-day running of a hockey club.
“He has had many years of experience in Belfast assisting in various roles on a matchnight – and this will be crucial and important to the Storm brand.
“We are building a good team of people here, who all want to succeed as a business and it’s a very exciting period. We want to build a successful business and a strong ice hockey club.”
Storm fans will learn their 2015-16 fixtures on Monday morning July 13th with the full list to be revealed at 9am.
As a Canadian living abroad – I get a little homesick every July 1st! I have had the pleasure of living in Europe for 10 years now – in both London, England and Dublin, Ireland. These are two great cites in two fantastic countries – no doubt about it – world class. But on July 1st I always day-dream about my favourite haunts, and pass times back home, and of course family and friends.
Don’t get me wrong – I am very fortunate living permanently abroad, I make a living working in hockey, covering the game and commentating on domestic UK, and international hockey. I also live in a city with a great musical and sporting culture – and as a ‘Murphy’, Ireland is a great fit. So, in honour of my homeland today I thought I’d share these classics:
Happy Canada Day wherever you’re celebrating. And if you are in Ireland, remember Molson Canadian, Moosehead and Tim Hortons are readily available to all of us who miss home!
Great to have one of the toughest and hardest working guys in the EIHL on the website this off-season! Adam Keefe is the Captain of the Belfast Giants, and a fan favourite to all who follow the club. But he’s also respected amongst his peers, and rival fans throughout the league. He’s a guy that all the other nine teams would have on their roster in a second! Murph caught up with Keefe back in Canada, as number 47 prepares for another campaign in Belfast…
Murph On Ice: Firstly, the off-season always means change to rosters, especially in the EIHL! Tell us about some of the Giants new additions thus far, Chris Higgins, Matt Nickerson, Jonathan Boxill, James Desmerais and Mike Forney really have Belfast fans excited for next season. Are you happy to have Nickerson on your team?!
Adam Keefe: Like the fans, I am excited as well about all the new signings and the ones still to come. Higgy was a big reason for our success on our run to the Elite League Title in 2014! His hands are “Magic” like the magic man Pavel Datsyuk himself. Just ask the guys at AVFTB. Great to have the “Belfast Datsyuk” back in town.
Boxill is a guy that has impressed me with his compete level the last couple of years. He has a bright future ahead of him in this league. He will be loved by the Belfast faithful when he pulls on the Giants sweater.
Forney’s numbers are impressive. He’s a dangerous player all over the ice and I think we lacked that last season. He will be a welcome addition to the team.
Nickerson obviously isn’t a very fun man to play against, and I thought we also lacked that D-man who made it difficult to get to the front of our net. He will punish players who try to get to the crease. He’s also a solid two way D-man and can contribute on the ice as well as with his fists. Obviously I am thrilled to no longer have to play against that monster of a man, and look forward to doing some damage this season with him.
Desmarais is a guy unfamiliar to our league, but has put up some big numbers in the Swiss league, and is another guy who will be a threat all over the ice. Nick Kuiper couldn’t say enough good things about him as a player and a person, and Nick is a guy that gets what it means to play in Belfast.
MOI: It has also been a neat time for your family this off-season. Your brother Sheldon Keefe has been named as the new Head Coach of the Toronto Marlies in the AHL. A fantastic opportunity for him, tell us a bit about how hard he has worked the past few years on the coaching craft. Also, do you guys discuss your on-ice play and does he have guidance for you throughout a season?
AK: My brother Sheldon has always been a hard worker. Both as a player and now as a coach. I think it was something instilled in us from a young age from our father who works very hard himself. Sheldon has transformed and rebuilt a career in the hockey world through his character and dedication to the game. I don’t think I know a man who has worked as hard as he has to get back to hockey’s mainstream. He deserves all the credit he’s gotten this summer. I’ve obviously followed his coaching career very closely since he took over as a Coach in Pembroke Junior A, once his playing career came to an end. Since then he has won five straight titles and one national title, before moving on to the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL, and turning around a struggling team and returning them to the playoffs. His recent promotion to the Toronto Marlies I believe is but a stepping stone on his march back to the NHL. We don’t really discuss my play very much, I don’t think I’m the kind of player he’d want on his team. (Laughs). My corsi isn’t great. However, I do like to pick his brain from time to time and try to learn as much as I can from him.
MOI: The EIHL and the quality of imports keeps getting better every year. Have you noticed big changes in your time in the EIHL? Any that really stick out for you?
AK: I believe the EIHL as a whole has continued to grow from year to year. A lot of it has to do with the depth of every hockey team improving. The biggest thing I’ve noticed from my first season is, there are no more “easy games” anymore. Every game is competitive, and anyone can win on any given night. I can only speak of the Belfast Giants professionalism on and off the ice. It was a great organisation to play for when I arrived here four years ago, and it only continues to get better and better each year that passes.
MOI: A few years back the Giants won the League with almost two months still to go. Last year with several off ice, and roster changes, it’s safe to say it was a tougher year. What can Giants and EIHL fans expect this upcoming campaign from the men in teal?
AK: Last season was definitely a disappointing year for fans and players alike. I can make one thing clear – we don’t like losing anymore then our loyal fans who come to support us every night. Win or lose they support us. The fire is still burning from last season’s let down, and we cannot wait to get back on the ice at the end of August and get back to our winning ways that we have become so accustomed to.
MOI: I mentioned Nickerson earlier, and Kevin Westgarth was with you last year, there’s some big tough guys in the EIHL – but fighting certainly was down last season. You’ve always been an honest tough player, willing to drop the gloves, but can you tell us a bit about the change in the EIHL in that regard?
AK: I think the lack of fighting may be a result of the league becoming much more competitive. In a league where the League Title is the top prize, every game is so important, and nobody wants to help the other team gain momentum and get back into a game when the other team may be trailing. That being said, I think the league has again gained some more characters from team to team, and I think we are in for a war to win a title this season. Should be fun!
MOI: How’s the training going back in Canada? Are you doing anything different this off-season to prepare?
AK: I’m not really doing much different than I have before. Over the years I have learned how to get my body ready to play, to keep myself healthy over the long gruelling season. I have a specific program that consists of gym workouts, swimming, boxing, hot yoga, and I try to stay as active as possible on the ice.
MOI: Competitions like the Champions Hockey League and the Continental Cup have been popular with fans over the past few seasons. As a player, and team that has been to the Continental Cup – give us a players and team perspective on things like the CHL, and Conti Cup that happen in an already busy season.
AK: There is no question it definitely hinders your chances of winning titles in the Elite League as it adds games to your already long and tough fixtures list, which can lead to key injuries or fatigue. But with that being said, we enjoy the challenge of competing on the European stage, and representing the EIHL well. I’m not a big believer in excuses, and I think it is possible to be successful in the Continental Cup, or Champions League as well as at home in the UK Elite League.
MOI: What are your goals both personally and team-wise for 2015/16?
AK: These days I only have one goal going into each season, and it’s to win Trophies. Anything less than that isn’t a successful season.
MOI: Your cousin Jordan Knox played in the EIHL last season with Hull, any chance you’d like to have him in Belfast with you at some point in the future? Also, sad to hear about the Stingrays?
AK: Yeah not great for the league when stuff like that happens, sorry for the Hull fans, you never like to see that. With my cousin – I was real excited to have the opportunity to play against him in the Continental Cup second leg in France, and it was even better when I heard he was coming to the Elite League. He is a good player with a strong work ethic, and a great head of hair. (Laughs). Obviously I would love the opportunity to play with Jordan. I am sure the situation would have to be right for both Jordan and the Giants organisation. He is the Captain of his own fishing boat back in Skinners Pond, PEI, working alongside his brother and father fishing lobster. I’ll be visiting him and the rest of my family in a few weeks’ time.
MOI: Your brother has made a successful career out of coaching after his playing days as we mentioned earlier, as a captain and a leader currently, is coaching or management within the game something you’d be interested in pursuing after your playing days?
AK: I’m starting to realise that there will be a life after playing hockey. I think as players we lose sight of that when we are in the thick of it all. We feel invincible. But in reality it will come to an end at some point. I have started to think about life after my playing career, and coaching/management is definitely something I am interested in, and have started to take some necessary steps to help prepare me for when the time comes. I’m hoping it’s in my blood.
MOI: Well Keefer, thanks for taking some time to chat – always a pleasure – and we’ll see you back on this side of the pond soon.
AK: Cheers Murph, thanks for having me on, see you in a few months.
Further to my post this morning…the Manchester Storm have been announced as the team that will replace the Hull Stingrays this upcoming season…keeping the league at ten teams.
From the EIHL:
Ice hockey’s Manchester Storm are back and when the puck drops in September, they will be playing in the top flight of British ice hockey – the Elite Ice Hockey League.
The Storm will be owned and operated by The Ice Rink Company Ltd, spearheaded by Mark Johnson, and will play out of Silverblades Ice Rink Altrincham.
The rebirth of the Storm keeps the EIHL at 10 strong teams for the upcoming campaign, as Manchester effectively replace Hull Stingrays in all competitions.
The Elite Ice Hockey League approached the new bosses of the Storm a week ago when it emerged that new circumstances meant that the participation of the Hull Stingrays in season 2015-16 was in jeopardy.
Earlier today it was confirmed that Hull would not be taking part in the upcoming campaign.
Manchester Storm were represented at an EIHL board meeting today and were unanimously welcomed into the league.
Mark Johnson, director of the Storm, said: “These are exciting times for ice hockey in the Manchester area and when we were approached by the EIHL to join the league, we pulled out all the stops to make it happen.
“This has become part of an even bigger picture for ice hockey in the region and we are looking forward to growing the fanbase and the grassroots of the sport in the area, alongside the re-birth of one of the iconic names in British sport.”
Elite League chairman Tony Smith said: “We would like to officially welcome Manchester Storm to the Elite Ice Hockey League.
“The name Manchester Storm is steeped in hockey tradition and it is great that it will once again be in the top flight of the sport.
“On behalf of the league I would like to place on record the important contribution made by the Hull Stingrays Ice Hockey Club, both on and off the ice, to the growth and development of the EIHL.
“Owner Bobby McEwan has worked so hard for the Stingrays and has been very passionate about the organisation. We are sad to see them go.”
You can follow the Manchester Storm on twitter: @Mcr_Storm
Never nice to hear about a team folding – no matter the level, league or sport. For the fans it’s devastating – no doubt about it. For the clubs staff, both on and off the ice – it’s stressful and career changing.
The Hull Stingrays this morning through owner Bobby McEwan, announced that the club was going into liquidation.
“It is with great sadness I have to inform you that this is the end for Hull Stingrays.”
The rumblings had been out there for a few weeks…the rumours were known to many close to the situation. This is a team that had struggled with the conference system, and the lack of bodies through the door, sponsor issues, plus rising costs to the owner:
“The loss of a major sponsor, increased operational costs, the introduction of ice-time charges as well as the shortage of fans attending our matches have left me with no other choice but to liquidate the club.” McEwan stated this morning on the teams website.
So of course on social media there were well wishes, and expressions of sadness for the club and its fans and staff. This is the good part of EIHL social media – at the end of the day – no matter who you support – everyone knows that this loss of a club is bad for the league as a whole, and the sport in this part of the world.
The negative on social media would be people placing blame and surmising of how this all went wrong etc. I’m not going to dwell on the negatives on social media too much – or even in the perceived facts of it all.
The reality is, that at this current moment on June 24th, the EIHL has gone from 10 to nine clubs (4 hours after this post the EIHL has announced that the Manchester Storm will replace Hull). A team that made some noise getting to the Playoff Final Weekend last year, and within a bounce of getting to the Grand Final, is no more in Hull. Players and off ice staff are left to look for new jobs – some will be successful – others will struggle. This is not the time to place blame or bring out the folks that like to say “I told you so” or those that will say they could do better, or even those that claim that McEwan didn’t do enough to save the team.
Now is the time for us all to realize how hard it is for our sport to survive and thrive in this part of the world. It’s time to support the remaining clubs old and new, by buying a ticket, by buying a webcast or by supporting the EIHL and it’s partners as a whole.
Negativity and finger pointing are a part of our social media world unfortunately – but today lets all just try and send good vibes to those that have lost their jobs – good vibes hoping that this won’t ruin their lives in the short term – good vibes that they all land on their feet, or skates as it were.
I enjoyed my visits to Hull over the past few years – I was always made to feel welcome as a fan, and as a television broadcaster. To the folks that made me feel that way – thanks to you all, and good luck. Hopefully our hockey paths will cross again soon.
Bobby McEwan’s full statement:
“It is with great sadness I have to inform you that this is the end for Hull Stingrays.
“The loss of a major sponsor, increased operational costs, the introduction of ice-time charges as well as the shortage of fans attending our matches have left me with no other choice but to liquidate the club.
“There had been interest from parties willing to take control of the club but once that failed to materialise there simply was no other alternative.
“Reaching the play-off finals weekend and coming within a whisker of progressing to the final last season filled me with immense pride.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my three years in charge of the Stingrays – it was a dream come true for me. Sadly, that dream has now come to an end.
“It has been an extremely stressful time for my wife Debbie and I and this is the toughest decision I have had to make in my life.
“I would like to apologise to [player-coach], Omar Pacha, [assistant-player coach] Carl Lauzon and [captain] Matty Davies for not being able to build on last season’s success.
“Finally, I must thank our loyal supporters for all their backing over the years – I am just sorry it has had to end this way.”
It seems like a long time until September 5th – the date the Elite Ice Hockey League starts back up! To help curb your EIHL withdrawals this summer folks…here’s a look back at two incredible SF’s from the Play-Off Final Weekend in Nottingham. Neil Russell and Paul Adey joined me in the commentary booth: