I truly believe that from the moment you buy your first hockey ticket, or tune into your first game, you become something much greater than yourself. You become part of a global family of hockey lovers who are passionate about the sport they love, they care for each other and when everything feels like it might just be falling apart? They rally round and prove to you that you are never alone.
With playoff weekend in the Elite League almost upon us, I took to Facebook to ask some veterans of the event what advice they’d give a newbie. I got some interesting answers!
“Bunkers is a must. Take selfies with the mascots outside. Enjoy the festival atmosphere. Make friends with some Fife fans and watch in awe as the Braehead fans have the time of their lives!” – Sarah Cutts
“Think you will have a great time the atmosphere is unreal the whole hockey family under one roof even if your team’s not there everyone has great time, magic weekend.” – Leslie Harrison
“There are three bars around the arena – saltbox, bunkers and legend. All within walking distance of the city. Subway is across the road and town is 5 mins walk to all the pubs for food. Just have a laugh, sing songs, talk to fans, and just remember what happens in Nottingham will be all over Facebook on Monday hehehe missed 1 play offs weekend since Wembley days! Love the whole weekend!” – Kellie Langdown
Sounds family friendly right? I’m taking in the Saturday with my five year old daughter Sophia, so I’m limited in terms of what I can do.
You however, might not be taking a child with you. So here are the more ‘grown up’ suggestions I got.
“If you think you’re as drunk as you can possibly be, find Brian Stewart and prove yourself incredibly wrong 😂 Stewie Watch is a must.” – Hollz Cooper
“Go to Bunkers, drink lots, speak to everyone, have an amazing time and drink champagne for breakfast, that’s what I do!” – Gail Mallarky
If someone was to ask me which Elite League team I supported; I don’t think I could answer them. I love hockey. I support hockey in this country. In my time as a hockey fan in the UK, I suppose you could say I’ve supported most of the teams who play here. I try and raise my daughter the same way. She is the next generation of paying fan and I believe it’s important to give those children an open and positive attitude towards the game from the very first day.
What started as a bit of fun and as a video for the BBC Social in Scotland has made these men, internet sensations and rightly so.
The video, featuring both men in nothing but their kilts, socks and boots, originally posted 5 days ago, was something both men were told not to get too hopeful over. As I type it’s been viewed more than 44 million times and has thrust them into the media spotlight.
I don’t know about you but I’ve been a fan of hockey now for a few years. I started watching because a friend introduced me to it after I’d been watching NHL for a little while and I was looking for something closer to home to watch. It’s always been pretty casual up until recently, but more and more as I’m learning the rules and learning to watch for those infractions it’s becoming clear that there are a few problems… I wonder – do other people see them too?
I’d love to be able to actually look through them – to learn them but I can’t actually find them. I’ve scoured for a while to try and find a definitive list but it appears not to exist. You go to the Elite League’s official website and try search for rules and it brings up a whole lot about the Department Of Player Safety (DOPS) but no actual rules. This I find deeply frustrating. How can the officiating staff all sing the same song if no one has a copy of the lyrics??
2. Consistency throughout British Ice Hockey – not just the Elite League, but across the board.
Players move through the ranks quite often, moving from the Steeldogs to the Steelers, the NIHL Blaze to the EIHL Blaze or from various other lower league teams to their EIHL counterparts. Should these players be expected to learn two different sets of rules – or at least the rules that are different between the two leagues. What happens if a player causes a penalty by doing something that would have been allowed under their previous team just because they weren’t aware of the differences?
Talk recently has been about cleaning up mainly the Elite League in the UK, but what about the rest. Personally I think that rules need to be the same across all of the adult leagues in the country. The minute you are playing for an adult team, you follow the same set of rules, regardless of the league. Isn’t that just straight-up common sense?
3. Accountability – Should the league be holding referees accountable for poor decision making?
Now this one, this is quite tricky really due to the above mentioned lack of an actual rule book and the fact that I’ve come to believe the refs are volunteers? Not actually employees of the league. [please correct me if I’m wrong about that] In refereeing there is also the element of human error, no person is a robot. No one will catch every single infraction that happens in the fast paced game. However, of a referee makes a decision that the league or teams believe to be unfair or unjust, they should be called out on it and dealt with accordingly. After all DOPS is there to check on the calls that teams feel are unfair or incorrect but it is the player who is punished after the fact, rather than the referee who gave the wrong call at the time.
I know this one is a bit of a long shot though because as volunteers they don’t really have the same kind of code of conduct or rules as someone who would actually be employed. They give up their time to do this but it does not excuse the, at times, sloppy calls of the referees. Referees need to be held to a higher standard, they can’t be seen to be more biased towards one team or another. How can it be right for a referee to travel on a team bus for example to save money on travel and then not have their possible bias called into question by the other team? Who’s to know what goes on behind closed doors when everyone’s back is turned? To me, it just does not seem right.
Officiating staff need to be above reproach, so that accusations like that cannot be thrown at them because there is simply no evidence to suggest they are anything but unbiased and impartial.
4. The ban on being able to say anything against referees
This one? This one really grinds my gears. Why can’t coaches and players be able to air their grievances against referees without the risk of a fine? Because it’s unprofessional?
If there is evidence to back up their claims why not let them air it? Let coaches grumble, perhaps there’s a reason for their complaints that needs to be dealt with rather than having them swept under the carpet and the speaker be fined for saying what’s on their mind. That is not good business. Don’t turn a blind eye to bad calls and expect no one to notice. Fines to those who speak out is simply not the answer. Sure it lines the pockets of the league top bosses, but it doesn’t solve the problem of dubious refereeing.
Referees need to be accountable. They are not Gods who’s decision is final, they make mistakes just like all us meer mortals and should be called out on it. Just like anyone else. If they make a stupid decision they should have to justify it. Not just have it brushed off and under the carpet simply because of the colour of their shirts.
These are basically a few things I have been mulling over for a while. Is there anything else you think should be discussed?
Mental illness is not something to be taken lightly. Regardless of what disorder or condition anyone suffers there should never be a reason that someone doesn’t feel comfortable to talk about it. It’s not a dirty word, it certainly isn’t anything to be ashamed or embarrassed of. Yet every single day people all over the world are suffering in silence, terrified of the repercussions that might come from opening up.
Today, across the internet you have probably seen people using the hashtag BellLetsTalk. It’s to raise awareness and to try and dampen that stigma that means that approximately every 2 hours, someone in the European Union (including the United Kingdom & Ireland) commits suicide.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged 20-34 years in the UK and it is considerably higher in men, with nearly four times as many men dying as a result of suicide compared to women. Those at highest risk are men aged between 45 and 59 years who have a rate of 25.1 per 100,000 population.
Some of the biggest stars of the EIHL are doing their part to raise awareness as well, including GMB Nottingham Panthers enforcer, Brian McGratten and the Coventry Blaze’s Barry Almeida. Sheffield Steelers tough guy, Guillaume Desbiens has previously participated in an awareness campaign for suicide.
It's day 12 of 20 common myths, misunderstandings or misconceptions about suicide and i'll say that this one particularly resonates with me. Believe me when I say that your friends and family are NOT better off without you. #askforhelp #20daysofawareness MYTH: If you take your life, people (family, friends, loved ones) will be far better off without you. TRUTH: An attempted or completed suicide has a profound and devastating impact on people left behind. Someone considering suicide may feel that they are a burden to others around them, and be unable to recognise the effect that their death may have on loved ones. Stay Alive App: https://appsto.re/us/xUmK2.i CANADA: http://www.cmha.ca US: http://us.reachout.com http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
According to statistics, men are more likely to suffer in silence owing to the way that the media often tries to make men out to be weak if they share how they feel. Recently, campaigns have been more active to try and reduce the stigma and encourage men to speak out. Hockey players all over the world are trying to break that stigma and encourage those who are suffering to speak out.
Mental illness isn’t new in Ice Hockey, owing to the real risk of head injuries, concussion is always a possibility. This is why player safety and education is key to the progression of the game going forward and if players are speaking openly about struggles they have had owing to their injuries it might be the encouragement a fan might need to talk about theirs.
So perhaps jump on Twitter if you have it and share your story with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk and let’s start a conversation about mental health.
If you or someone you know is suffering with mental illness, please don’t suffer in silence. There is always someone there to help you and to listen without judgement.
So… I’ve had a super crazy idea to try and create a video full of hockey selfies! The selfie is a staple for going to a game, getting a photo of you and your friends rocking your team colours or perhaps you with your favourite player! I want to make the longest video possible and cover as much of the hockey world as possible.
Hockey fans are a family, everyone is connected by their love of the sport of ice hockey. I’m aiming to create a huge video album of that family, regardless of your team colours, the language you speak or the country you come from we are all a family.
Let’s celebrate the centenary of the NHL and show them just how much they have inspired us and our love for our teams!
It seems strange to me to think I’ve been writing for OnFire now for nearly a year. I remember seeing an advert online posted by the Coventry Blaze on Facebook asking for writers for their match day publication.