So it’s here…
The Blaze season starts in earnest on Sunday with the Nottingham Panthers visiting the Skydome for the Challenge Cup, and the first competitive game of the season.
The Challenge Cup is a competition the Blaze have failed miserably in over the last few seasons and it’s something Danny Stewart will want to put right.
Writing prior to the Cardiff ‘friendly’ on Saturday I am loathe to tempt fate, but the Blaze are expected to be at full strength on Sunday.
Stewart has handled his roster admirably over the last couple of weeks. Leaving players out that needed to be, such as Cowley, Robinson and Noble, seems to have worked a treat.
Then not forgetting giving Brian Stewart a rest, and Renny getting the start in goal on Wednesday, in hindsight was a genius idea and one I don’t think many (including myself) saw coming.
Danny seems very confident in knowing how to handle his players, a clear indication and reference of this was the decision to let Marc Cantin play two games in his first 24 hours in the country, something many coaches may have backed away from. Cantin wanted ice time and Stewart let him play.
It looks an exciting time for Coventry, James Pease and Danny have recruited well and with some luck we will improve greatly on last season. Let’s not get carried away, we will lose games, but it looks like we are going to have some fun for the next 8 months.
Many Blaze fans will be keeping a keen eye on the results in Dundee. Popular ex Blaze coach Marc LeFebvre may not have had the finest experience in his coaching career in Coventry, but he learned valuable lessons in his time here and certainly made lots of freinds.
I don’t think there is a true Blaze fan that doesn’t want ‘Favor’ to continue to do well with the Stars and after a promising first season with the Scottish club he will be looking to improve again.
LeFebvre of course has recruited two of the most popular ex Blaze players in recent seasons in Cale Tanaka and Craig Cescon.
Whilst it was maybe the right time for Cale to move on after 3 seasons with the Blaze, Cescon’s single season in Coventry never seemed enough for this writer.
A tough uncompromising character on the ice, and then the most amiable, funny likeable guy off it, I would have had Craig back in a heartbeat.
Tanaka and Cescon will quickly become favourites in Dundee and that can only be a good thing for the best dressed coach in the league.
TV or not TV – that is the question…
Elite League Chairman Tony Smith this week confirmed that the TV deal with Premier Sports has now finished and no contracts have been signed for the forthcoming season with the pay per view channel.
Every business has a worth and if the two organisations (EIHL and Premier Sports) just can’t work out a deal then it’s a shame but life goes on.
I know for a fact it wasn’t for the want of trying from the EIHL point of view. Many options were discussed but headway just could not be made during negotiations.
To quote someone involved I spoke to yesterday “It’s very sad”. A short sentence but pretty much sums things up.
What I would add that knowing the guys involved from the League point of view they will be (they are) looking at a variety of options, and I don’t think British Ice Hockey will be off our screens for a long time.
If the league had undersold itself, or done a deal that wasn’t right for its member clubs they would not only have been doing a miservice to its clubs, but also to all of the fans who pay to watch Elite League Ice Hockey.
Storm coming maybe, but let’s be able to see and hear it…
Wednesday nights match up in Manchester was a cracking game first and foremost. Every fan will have gone home happy that’s for sure. I just hope the owners of the rink start to back up the hard word of Neil Russell and his team.
Now the Altrincham Ice Dome isn’t the Sheffield Arena, I get that. But surely you have to make the best of what you have?
There are screens dotted around everywhere in the rink to back up the blind spots from where you sit. None of the ones facing the our side of the rink were working / turned on. Very frustrating.
For those that haven’t been to Manchester, there is a massive blind spot from where away fans sit (and I assume it’s the same all round the rink) which provided a comedy moment of sorts, when Robin Bergman scored a goal immediately after Blaze won the second period face off.
Boutin sent the puck to the left wing and Bergman shot home. Blaze fans were oblivious to this, we only realised we had scored when the players skates back to the bench! Had the screens been working we could have seen the goal.
The sound system needs work too, muffled goal scoring announcements made it sometimes impossible to hear what was going on.
The was every reason last year to reserve comment, and what Neil Russell has achieved thus far is fantastic, but it’s time for the rink owners to back the club and make some investment to give Jon Hammond (how much energy has he got!?!) the best tools possible, and to present the Storm fans and visiting fans with the best experience possible.
Enjoy the weekend folks!