It’s Good To Talk – A More Open EIHL
In a move to bring the EIHL in line with the majority of other leagues around the globe, the Elite League has permitted each of the clubs to appoint additional alternate captains this season. The teams are now allowed to designate a captain and three alternates.
In a statement last week, the League Chairman, Tony Smith, indicated that it was to improve communication between the officials and the players. Based on some of the lengthy on-ice discussions I’ve seen so far this season communication is something that’s already in place – whether anything of worth is being said is a different matter. Only a few of the teams have appointed their new alternates, most others are yet to announce that extra A.
Current Team Captains and Alternates:
Belfast Giants C – Adam Keefe. A – Calvin Elfring, Colin Shields
Braehead Clan C – Matt Keith. A – Scott Aarssen, Chris Frank
Cardiff Devils C – Tyson Marsh. A – Trevor Hendrikx, Jake Morissette, Matthew Myers
Coventry Blaze C – Ashley Tait. A – Russell Cowley, Steve Goertzen, Mike Egener
Dundee Stars C – Chris Blight. A – Brad Plumton, Kevin Quick
Edinburgh Capitals C – Jade Portwood. A – Lukas Bohunicky, Dennis Rix
Fife Flyers C – Kyle Haines. A – Bobby Chaumont, Jordan Fulton
Hull Stingrays C – Matthew Davies. A – Carl Lauzon, Yan Turcotte
Nottingham Panthers C – David Clarke. A – Brandon Benedict, Bruce Graham, Stephen Lee
Sheffield Steelers C – Jonathan Phillips. A – Gord Baldwin, Dustin Kohn, Mathieu Roy
It appears that the EIHL is attempting to bring in some of the staples of the bigger IIHF leagues. With the EIHL games now being filmed in some capacity, there is now the trialling of a new Department of Player Safety to review hits and hand out appropriate punishment. To date this season there have been five play reviews leading to suspensions to Riley Emmerson (Edinburgh – ten games, reduced to three on appeal), Jeff Hutchins (Dundee – one game), Chris Frank (Braehead – four games), and Nathan Robinson (Nottingham – one game).
With the recording of games it may not be too long before there is also live play review. This may have assisted on 27th September at the game between the Sheffield Steelers and Cardiff Devils when, much to the confusion of everyone, the goal horn sounded while the officials were talking to the players at centre ice.
What had clearly been a goal to the scorer (Mike Forney) – and to everyone else except referee Tom Darnell and the goal judge – had been waved off and play allowed to continue. This left Forney in rather awkward mid-celly with the puck heading in the other direction. At the first stoppage in play a few minutes later, Darnell – after consultation with his linesman – reversed the decision, reset the game clock, and added a goal to the Steelers total. The fans in the Motorpoint Arena were all rather bemused.
In the NHL the decision would have been made in Toronto while the fans watched the replay on the scoreboard. This would be followed by the referee vocalising the decision to the crowd (and TV cameras). This is still a way off in the EIHL, but may at least be something that could be on the horizon. Premier Sports have the rights to EIHL games (and NHL), but the teams are now offering live streaming of games. While there is no doubt that the plan is to gain extra revenue in the move, it’s something that has a lot of benefit. Live streaming gives the fans a much better opportunity to keep up with their teams, especially when on the road. It gives the league a better chance of bringing in new fans. It may also be that first step towards live review.
While the EIHL is unlikely to ever have the level of fan-immersion that the NHL does, it is slowly creeping towards more openness and perhaps a move towards policing itself in much the same way as its big cousin attempts to do. Whether the additional alternates will generate an improvement in on-ice communication or not isn’t something we can determine at this point, certainly not from our seats in the stands where we’re not privy to all that is being said.
As the live coverage and streaming of matches becomes more widespread with added commentary, then there may be further waves made. If the trial of DoPS results in its continuance next year, then watch this space!