It’s been a while – I miss writing on here for sure, but it’s been a crazy hockey season! With commentary duty spanning the Elite Ice Hockey League, Swedish Hockey League, Champions Hockey League, Team GB and IIHF top pool World Championships – there’s been little web time sadly. So, hopefully I can still string a few paragraphs together.
First off, to touch on all the above hockey, it was an honour to be a part of each and every league and competition as a play-by play guy!
Top Flight Action
The Swedish Hockey League and the Champions Hockey League were on a level that was so good – I had to pinch myself at times behind the mic. The creativity and speed at which hockey happens in the SHL and CHL is a joy to witness. I look forward to being a part of both those leagues, calling games again this coming season. The CHL will be especially neat with two EIHL teams competing next year. The Sheffield Steelers and Braehead Clan will both be in very tough make no mistake, but Paul Thompson of the Steelers, and Ryan Finnerty of the Clan will be ready behind their respective benches. Those games will be on TV – so stay tuned for all the info.
Speaking of the EIHL, last season saw a bit of history, as both the semi-finals from the Play-off Final weekend were live on TV for the first time. I was a part of over 12 hours of live coverage from Nottingham. A magical weekend which saw Chuck Weber lead the Coventry Blaze to glory in the seasons final competition. Not many people believed the Blaze had a chance – but Weber has made the entire EIHL sit up and take notice on how coaching, systems, and attention to professional detail really can make a huge difference.
Weirdly I see some comments on-line from people saying that perhaps hockey is not a TV sport. I am shocked in 2015 that such a view could exist. Everyone is entitled to their opinion – and mine is that in 2015 any professional sports league has to live in that space. In my opinion – it’s good for the game to see a network try and be the home of the sport and give people a place to view it at all levels. Maybe we all should sit back, relax and enjoy the fact anyone covers any hockey in this part of the world. To those of you that enjoyed the EIHL on TV the past few years, thanks for the feedback, support and overall positivity – I appreciate it tremendously. I also know my co-commentators Neil Russell, and Paul Adey would second that appreciation.
The IIHF was fantastic this past season as well. Canada were the class of the top pool – scoring 66 goals in ten games on their way to a first Gold Medal since 2007. Sidney Crosby and Jason Spezza seemed to be on a different level throughout, and Russia had little answer in the final, even with Alex Ovechkin jetting to Prague to be a part of the last few games. Canada were on a mission throughout and were a perfect 10-0 in the Czech Republic in a long overdue Golden performance.
For Team GB – what a tournament in Eindhoven. A silver medal, and coming within a bounce here and there of Gold and promotion. Paul Adey and I called those games on TV – and enjoyed the first go around for coach Pete Russell at the helm of Team GB. Undefeated right up until the final day, they just couldn’t find one last win to finish the job – but all involved should still be holding their heads high. The future appears bright with Russell behind the bench. And Ben O’Connor was the talk of the week, with a goal so good it went viral on-line, and left Adey and I scratching our heads!
Magic Man O’Connor:
Again an honour to call another World Championship campaign, both at the top pool, and Division 1 levels.
Lord Stanley, break out the Brandy
Hopefully you’re enjoying the Stanley Cup as your last hockey fix before summer well and truly begins! Blackhawks in six was my prediction…but either way, what speed and skill from both Chicago and Tampa Bay so far – a true joy to witness. I have been lucky enough to cover three Stanley Cups in my career, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Those were special trips – and to see a Stanley Cup game in person should be on every hockey fans bucket list.
Enjoy your summer folks, hopefully my blogging/writing here isn’t as rusty as it feels – but thanks for reading. I look forward to more writing next season – but even more-so – I can’t wait to get back calling lots of live hockey on TV in 2015/16! Until then cheers, and thanks for following, reading and watching!
You can follow Murph on Twitter here: @MurphOnIce