One of the toughest players ever to grace the British game, Jay Rosehill spoke with the endless amounts of passion and he even had time to share a few special words fans just for EIHL fans. This candid interview with the former NHLer lifts the lid on the league’s officiating, life in the UK and much much more…it might even help to change your opinion on one of the EIHL’s biggest characters.
CS: What did you know about the UK before you arrived?
JR: Erm…the first thing that came to my mind was all the golf courses over there and that really peaked my interests. The golf courses in the UK really are legendary. On a different side of things, my wife’s sister lived in the UK for about 10 years and she told us about things to look out for and which places to go see whilst we were over. She really helped give us a good understanding of the areas and what to expect before we went over.
CS: How did the move [to the EIHL] come about?
JR: Well firstly my age was a factor, because I thought my time in the NHL was over, so I just wanted to go somewhere completely different for the last couple years of my career. I wanted to take my family with me and make some memories…without worrying too much about hockey being everything. I wanted to enjoy the game a lot more than I was afforded to in North America and everything lined up perfectly to make the change. After meeting with Ryan Finnerty it was kinda the last push that got me to sign over in the UK!
CS: Did any other EIHL clubs look to sign you?
JR: Yep a few did, I spoke to some different owners and coaches before deciding to sign with Finnerty. He [Finnerty] and I seemed to be on the same page, he [Finnerty] was a total straight shooter and an honest person, who ended up after two years being totally correct with everything. In this kind of game that’s not always the case and my gut feeling on Ryan Finnerty was what made me choose that team.
CS: Was the standard [of play] better than you expected?
JR: Erm…I thought it was good over there, but obviously I didn’t see the years before I came over. A lot more quality players were signing… guys that had good pro careers! Its definitely getting better.
CS: Was anything below the standard you were accustomed to in North America?
JR: The only thing that was below standard was the refereeing and I feel it leaves a lot to be desired…although, its not necessarily just down to them [the refs], as the education is not in place…they just don’t have a feel for the game.
I think the league should put some money into this and maybe look to improve the overall standard…I think as a result you will see a lot less frustration from the players because of it and that’s only a good thing.
CS: What was your opinion on the DOPS [Department of Player Safety] saga in your second EIHL season? Did you think they had it out for you, especially with the six-game ban?
JR: Yeah, erm…I take responsibility for what I did and I kinda put a target on my own back and they [DOPS] wanted to come after me which was a little frustrating. At times I did let my frustrations get the better of me, but I still don’t understand the drastic mid-season change DOPS made whilst I was in Manchester.
The league didn’t tell anybody what they were doing and what they were going to start enforcing…that just changed it and changed DOPS completely. They came up with this video review and nobody knew what was acceptable and what wasn’t…it should have been done over the summer. These big body-checks one week were legal and the next week they were not…plus players were getting suspensions on-top of that it could have been done better. The players were confused as to what was acceptable…the league did not send out any letters, they did not arrange any meetings and they did not even make a phonecall to the teams to discuss the changes.
You just didn’t know what to expect anymore, something was called one way the whole game and then all of a sudden it leads to a 5on3 because the ref calls something which he hasn’t all game long. Plus sometimes the entire game is decided by that one call and nobody wants one call to decide the game.
CS: Where was your favourite and least favourtie place to play in the league?
JR: Probably Edinburgh [for least], but its such a shame the city does not have a little better side because its a great great city and hopefully they get the changes they need down the road to get back into the big league. Obviously its fun playing in the big rinks…those places are nice.
I always enjoyed going up to Scotland, across to Northern Ireland and Manchester was great…but there are so many great places in the UK, whether I was playing hockey in them or just visiting them with my family…its too hard just to pick one.
CS: Any teams you did not like playing against?
JR: Maybe Cardiff, I didn’t care for them much to be honest. They were came off as a little bit cocky, but you know what they had a lot of success and they had a reason behind that extra confidence…but obviously you had that extra motivation going up against them!
CS: How did you find the change in culture? It was presumably your first time, for a prolonged period, outside North America…
JR: I really like the culture…its not like some of my friends who have moved to Russia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Those guys had a culture shock and it was pretty hard for them to adjust… a lot of the guys end up going into a little bit of a dark place and its hard because nobody speaks the language [english] and its a really tough adjustment. In the UK its definitely a different culture, but its not a shock because everyone speaks English and everyone has similar tastes to North America just with some subtle differences.
I really enjoyed going to the football games, watching some rugby games and cricket. I like the old pubs that have loads of character whilst having a pint and playing some darts…just following the ways of the British culture, which is always fun!
CS: Is there anything you are missing from the UK?
JR: Erm definitely the golf courses…yanoo I’ll watch some of the old Open Championships and the history of those places is pretty special. I really enjoyed playing at St. Andrews, Prestwick, Turnberry and just some many I could list off that I didn’t get chance to play on. Its a big miss and hopefully I’ll come back over to play some more.
CS: Do you have any last words for the fans over here?
JR: Just keep doing what you are doing, we [the players] love the passion and the chants! That kind of atmosphere isn’t something we have over here [in North America] and just keep bringing that enthusiasm to the rink. Keep spreading the word of hockey and get your kids involved in the sport, if it [British hockey] keeps developing the way it is, it will only get bigger and bigger. I can’t wait to see what happens.
Like even when you are playing against the other teams and they are just yelling at ya…they have even made chants for you and its great to be part of it. Those passionate fans are something special and I’ll always remember those days and those rinks.
It was an absolute pleasure to interview Jay Rosehill and contrary to popular belief (in the majority of EIHL fanbases) he is a true and honest gentlemen. A living example of not judging a book by its cover, Jay Rosehill was extremely personable and still remains very passionate about the British game, so if you are to take anything from this interview I hope it is that. Rosehill was a standout professional athlete during his two year stint in the EIHL, playing for Glasgow and Manchester respectively, and will most likely remain one of the most intimidating figures ever to ice the league.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and let us know what you think down in the comments below!
Feature image: Glasgow Clan Official Website