Question Time

Week commencing 19th October

What a response to the first Question Time, and thanks to all of you for your feedback and constructive criticism.  I was overwhelmed when the Elite League decided to use ‘QT’ on their website as a feature. Very humbled indeed.  I have spoken to the boys, and they are happy to ‘go weekly’, and so that is what we are going to do, from time to time we will use other guests, but to keep a certain level of consistency, we will in the main, go with these regular people.  If you want to be a part of it, please let me know.  There is a list, and I can add you to it.

It’s the week Coventry fly to Poland for Continental Cup action, Sheffield get hit with a fine for contravening league Social Media policy, Chris Lawrence scores his 5th Steeler’s goal in 3 games, Edinburgh stage a fantastic Ryan Hayes led comeback in Fife, Corey Neilson’s testimonial takes place, and Cardiff sit top of the Elite League…safe to say there are lots of issues to discuss, so let’s get started.

The panel answering the questions this week, consists of…

 Seth Bennett, is an award-winning freelance journalist and broadcaster. After working for Radio Sheffield for 12 years, Seth turned ‘freelance’ in 2011. Seth has commentated on a rich, variety of sports, and also worked at the London Olympic games for the BBC, and has appeared regularly on BBC 5 Live and the World Service. Seth is an avid sports fan, and as well as hockey, regularly enjoys, Football, Cricket and Rugby”

Marc LeFebvre

Marc LeFebvre is the head coach of the Dundee Stars.  As a player LeFebvre, played in North American, UK (Sheffield, Coventry and Edinburgh), France and Holland, playing well in excess of 500 professional games.In 2011 Marc took his first GM/Head Coaches position with the 1000 Island Privateers before moving on to the Dayton Demons where he won the League Coach of the Year award. In 2013 LeFebvre moved back to the UK, accepting an assistant coach’s job with the Sheffield Steelers this soon led to him accepting the Head Coach position in Coventry in 2014, which didn’t work out as well as he hoped. Marc accepted a short-term assistant coaching position in Eastern Europe (MOL Liga) before heading back to the Elite League and the Dundee Stars”

David Simms will not need an introduction to many of you.  From Team Manager of the Solihull Barons, in the late 80s and very early 90s, Dave accepted the challenge to help set up the Sheffield Steelers in 1991, and has rarely looked back.  Often a controversial figure, Dave is a speak it as you find it kind of guy, but whose knowledge of British Ice Hockey is second to none.  As well as being the long time front man for Sky Sports Ice Hockey coverage, Dave also appeared in the BBC documentary “The Estate Agent” which captured him in his day-to-day professional life”

Neil Russell is the General Manager of the newly reformed Manchester Storm.  Before landing the job with ‘The Storm’ Neil was the voice of the Belfast Giants for three seasons, commentating on the excellent “Giants Live TV” as well as also hosting and co-presenting Premier Sports excellent Hockey coverage for 3 years.  Neil is a keen, and very gifted cricketer, and led the Northern Irish side Instonians to the league title last season”

Craig Summerton may be better known to some of you by his Twitter handle @block15blaze.  Craig is the author of the very popular blog ).  A very respected authority and voice on British Ice Hockey, Craig is an avid Coventry Blaze fan since the clubs inception in 2000, and now travels regularly from London to watch the Blaze”

Stuck In the BoxOk guys, here we go again.  They say a week is a long time in politics, the same could be said about British Ice Hockey, so what do we know now, that we didn’t know a week ago?

Seth Bennett (SB)  Tough question to begin with Rob – Edinburgh’s Ryan Hayes is the real deal, the Gordie Howe hat-trick on Sunday inspired a comeback against Fife. Hayes is the heartbeat of the team and is growing in stature everyday.

Craig Summerton (CS)  Blaze CAN score, Sheffield aren’t infallible and we’ve discovered what penalties DOPS will automatically review, via a conversation on Twitter…. Well, at least we know now.

Marc LeFebvre (ML)  That DOPS doesn’t actually stand for “Department Of Protecting Steelers” which has been suggested by a few people.

David Simms (DS)  We know that the world is a poorer place and that we can’t have some humour in the sport because of the PC brigade and societies fear of upsetting the minority.  Other than that we learn’t that Nottingham need Waugh back quicker than ever they thought as their D isn’t good enough to win a title without him.

Neil Russell (NR)  That you shouldn’t run “Caption Competitions” on Twitter?!?

Stuck In the Box:  Wow, that’s an explosive start, lets stay with the Steelers and them being, some may say,  ‘controversially’ fined by the Elite League via the DOPS panel for a Social Media faux pas, any further thoughts on this?

CS  Personally, I wouldn’t have posted it on a club’s official account for two reasons, first I don’t feel it projected a ‘professional image’ which Sheffield say they are seeking and second I couldn’t be bothered with the obvious drama it was bound to cause. That said, we’ve seen tweets from players featuring rape analogies, homosexual connotations and abuse towards fans so why has this particular tweet been punished? The league have set a precedent now, let’s see if consistency reigns. 

DS   It’s crazy. The world and society have gone PC mad. If social media isn’t a place where humour can be expressed then we might as well not have it. Social media isn’t a place just for adverts and sponsors messages. A few people reacted and were looking for a reaction, not because of the post but because of the club / personnel involved. Cheap decision, wrong decision.

ML  I thought it was just a bit of fun. There’s more important issues in our league that should be focused on. I think we live in such a soft society mentally now a days that every little poke at someone is deemed offensive. Some people need to get some thicker skin. 

SB  Whether you were born in the 50’s, 60’s 70’s 80’s or 90’s we are all living in the 21st century and so have to live by the same rules. Saying “Cheer Up Love” has sexist connotations for many people, to them it reads “cheer up little lady and while you are at it, make the tea and iron my shirts.” Was that how it was intended by the poster, no I don’t think for second. BUT having read the complaints there is no doubt in mind that many felt that the tweets were both sexist and bullying. A league can’t allow that perception to fester when it wants to build a family audience and be inclusive. If it turns one person away from the game then it is worth a reminder to all to be more professional. A twitter account doesn’t have an accent, a cheeky smile or a twinkle in it’s eye, you have to always consider this when taking part in banter on social media. For me what Sheffield did was thoughtless and stupid and there was no need. I still fail to understand why when you win a game against your rivals, you want to make it about them losing rather than you winning. Had Sheffield been cuter in delivery, there would have been no problem with what they did, but they weren’t. 

NR  Next question? Ha! Social media is such an effective tool for promoting your club and indeed sport. I’m all for having some fun with it, but in today’s world, a lot of people are offended by very little too. So my approach to social media with the Storm is to ensure it’s interactive & interesting, but to totally avoid anything that could be taken up by an individual’s, as being in anyway controversial. BUT, some people really need to loosen up too!!

Stuck In the Box:  Moving swiftly away from DOPS and controversy, 40-year-old David Ling returns to the Nottingham Panthers this week, how do we see it working out for him?

SB  He will have to go a long way to repeat his performance of a couple of years ago. The league is better, but Ling has the ability to slow the game down and play at his own speed. If his mind is focussed on playing hockey then he will do well. If not he will find it hard to live up to expectation. 

NR That line of Ling, Benedict and Graham from the Panthers TREBLE winning season, was unreal. Ling was the conductor, and by heck he was good. Now, that was a few seasons ago, he’s 41 soon, the big question is, does he still have “it”. Time will soon tell. If he’s ¾’s of the player he was last time, a lot of opposition D men across the league will not sleep well the night before playing the Panthers.

ML  You can ask me this question after Saturday night!

DS  Hopefully not very well, but that’s from a selfish Sheffield perspective. Listen, Ling was a great player, he is now a little older and that’s the biggest question. I would say though that class remains with you and he was one hell of a player. I don’t expect the same Ling but I do expect a very good Ling.

CS  I’m going to stick my neck out here and disagree with the boys.  I say it’s got PC Drouin written all over it. Clearly still a very good player having been called up to the AHL last season but he’s had personal problems, he’s weeks behind everyone else and he’s coming into a very different league and indeed Nottingham side to last time he was here. One thing’s for sure, he isn’t what Nottingham are missing right now.

Stuck in the Box:  Looking back to last weekend, pick out a team performance of the week, a result that impressed or surprised you? 

DS  Dundee, 4 point weekend, first of the year, their progress continues – good on them

ML  As much as I’d like to agree with Dave and say our four point weekend, I have to go with Edinburgh’s come back from 4-0 down on Sunday to win in OT. 

SB  Edinburgh coming back as they did against Fife to win on Sunday was very impressive.  Riley Emmerson has his side playing really well right now. In truth I was also shocked by Coventry’s outburst v Nottingham, that is one I didn’t expect. 

NR  Edinburgh. 4-0 down at home, and come back to win 5-4. AND what a fight that was too in the game. Edinburgh have a lot of fight this season, but also skill, which makes them a good product to watch. Riley has done a good job there to date.

CS  Cardiff’s ability to win on the road has often been questioned, and I think that has been overlooked by the guys, 3 from 4 points in Belfast was a big statement

Stuck in the Box:  It’s Corey Neilson’s testimonial game this week, how much of an impact has he had on the Nottingham Panthers, and also the British game in general?

DS  He is arrogant, he is different, he can be selfish, he can be offish. I like him.  He is a personality, he creates interest. I know we are going towards a very grey society but Neilson is at least interesting.  He was the one as well who won for the Panthers, the coach that brought home the title for the first time since 1956. He won play offs and challenge cups. He has delivered for Neil Black.  Black was patient, but Black was rewarded.

ML  Corey has won a lot of trophies in our league over the years and his testimonial is well deserved. He brought a league title to Nottingham and killed off the ghosts of 1956. In terms of the British game, you just have to look at the number of international caps the British players, that he has had in Nottingham, have earned over his time there.

NR  Firstly, the Corey that everyone calls arrogant & aloof is different to the Corey I’ve gotten to know. Always polite, mannerly & respectful anytime I’ve spoken with him. As for Corey the player & coach… a player, loved his style of play. Great at quarterbacking the power play unit too. As a Coach, just look at the trophies he’s won! Yes, he’d maybe like another league title or two in there, but still, he has won a lot as Coach and that’s all that fans and indeed owners ask for.

CS  Most successful coach in their history says it all about his impact on the club, but I do feel he has somewhat under achieved given the resources awarded to him and only delivering a single league title. For British hockey though he’s been good. A character and someone who has pushed other club’s to be better because they want to beat him. He should also be applauded for the work he has done with a core of British players. Never feared giving young Brits good responsibility and he’s helped accelerate the development of a few.

SB  Despite 10 years here, Corey is someone I have had very limited dealings with, which is rare. He has had great success, but is he a great coach? I don’t have a strong opinion either way.

Stuck in the Box:  Over in Belfast, Derrick Walser has really impressed me on the ice, but also off it, I like his style, any comments?

DS  DOPS will soon knock the personality out of him – enjoy it whilst it lasts.  Met him twice, seems a good bloke, a hockey man.  Yeah I agree Rob, I like him. Hell of a player as well.

ML  On the ice he’s very dangerous. Makes a great first pass and patient on the puck. I like his post game interviews as he’s not afraid to call it as it is

NR  Really like his passion, and enjoy his interviews. He doesn’t run off the same lines every week, what he says comes from the heart, and for a fan, that’s all you want to hear….your coach being honest, either positively or negatively. As for Walser the player, SUPERB. Defensively he maybe pinches a bit too much, but damn, he’s good to watch.

CS  He shoots from the hip. I like that. I wonder though if his style might rub players up the wrong way? He’s been good on ice and not bad from a coaching perspective. He might have been excellent at either had he not got a combined role.

SB  Really talented player, I think he is going to find it a very long year, where that full head of hair may disappear quite quickly if he can’t find the “Matsos zone” pretty quick

Stuck in the Box:  Edinburgh’s Ryan Hayes leads the way in the EIHL’s goal scoring lists, he looks to be a great pick up, had you heard of him before this season?

CS  His numbers in the ECHL last year were good and he’s started the EIHL season well. He’s a threat for sure, but as we’ve seen in the past it’s difficult to properly assess an offensive player in a situation where there’s little pressure or expectation and he’s given the freedom to play one-way.

ML  I know he was on a few teams radars in our league. He’s not a guy you notice before the tops of the circles but below them he’s a dangerous threat. He’s paid to score goals and he’s doing just that. 

NR  Nope, he hadn’t come across my radar previously, but he’s been a superb pick up for the Caps. Can he sustain that throughout the season? Time will tell.

SB  I had never heard of him, I know a couple of teams were in for him. My worry was he would maybe find it hard to deal with the physicality of the league, but he has been brilliant. He makes things happen and I love that. 

DS  No, hadn’t heard of him. Question back to you, is this, is he a Tendler? Great in that conference. Great at cheating, not playing a system and capitalizing on half chances. Don’t get me wrong a good player but the Cap’s haven’t signed a new Messiah

Stuck in the Box:  I asked for a prediction last week, regarding who will win the Elite League come April, so this week, tell me which two teams are missing out on those play off places

CS  Fife to finish bottom. Have failed to develop with an ever improving league and their net-minder is nowhere near the level that they require. 7th I predict will be Edinburgh. They have talent but I like the other teams around them more, Caps have shallow depth and I can see the likes of Manchester adding/replacing more actively than the Caps to beat them to the playoff spots.

ML  I think the 03/04 London Racers for the wooden spoon and a battle between Newcastle and Ayr Eagles for the last spot

<stuck in the box> That’s a fine for avoiding a difficult question Mark!

ML I’ll gladly pay it Rob.

DS  Edinburgh and Fife.

NR  Well, obviously my Manchester Storm team will make it!! I’ll go Fife & Edinburgh, but I really do think it’s going to be super tight this season at the top and bottom. 

SB  Right now hard not to look at Fife and Coventry. Both club’s though have had strong ends to the season in recent years.

So, that bring us to the end of this weeks Question Time, thanks to the boys for their time again this week

If you wish to comment on Twitter, please use #EIHLQT

Don’t forget, If you would like to be considered in future monthly editions just let me know, or if you ever want to put a question in for consideration, just DM @DRPLogistics or email at  Obviously I cant guarantee I can do either, but I will always try. 

As usual, hope you enjoyed this, and good look to your teams, whoever you’re playing this weekend.


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