As the festive shoppers brave the cold to rush around high streets and market stalls, we take a quick look through the list of current free agents that have recent Elite League experience. The names on his list might have a few front office’s tempted to shuffle the deck or bolster the ranks before the hectic New Year schedule… Continue reading Last minute Christmas shopping
With Manchester Storm announcing the departure of Brendan Brooks yesterday, the EIHL player departure headcount now sits at 24. In just 15 weeks, 7 of the 11 teams have lost at least 1 player, and in a couple of cases, also their coach. This week alone has seen 5 casualties – Is it poor recruitment, poor pay, or is the league just not a place players want to be?
There is an argument for all of the above, and hockey players getting gassed or moving mid-season certainly isn’t a new phenomenon. In season past, numerous EIHL players have changed teams, but to lose so many so soon? And alarmingly, the list of 24 does not include Danick Paquette or Tom Parisi, both who left their teams (Coventry & Cardiff respectively) before the season officially got underway.
CTP’s own Lucy Hamilton, has been tracking the movements for each club:
7/11 – Ben Blood
4/12 – Justin Faryna
4/12 – Miika Wiikmann
4/12 – Kelin Ainsworth
3/10 – Kevin Phillips
26/10 – Marcus Basara
20/11 – Jindrich Pacl
23/11 – Dylan Anderson
6/12 – Brendan Brooks
2/11 – Joonas Houvinen
14/11 – Head Coach Doug McKay
21/11 – Eric Neiley
1/12 – Rihards Grigors
18/11 – Jacob Doty
27/11 – Sam Gospel
29/11 – Tyler VanKleef
3/12 – Tyler Biggs
17/9 – Matt Rupert
17/9 – Ryan Rupert
1/10 – Head Coach Paul Thompson
24/10 – Brendan Brooks
28/10 Chris Lawrence
30/10 Jiri Gula
25/11 Bradley Day (loaned to Hull Pirates)
Despite dropping to 11 teams, the EIHL appears to be in good shape and is arguably more competitive than in recent times. The Devils have strengthened over the summer, but certainly do not look like they have the stranglehold on the league that they did last season. At the other end of the table, Dundee & MK have shown they can compete, and win, against anyone when on their game. The UK in general is still seen as a tourist destination, and is a big selling point for players who come to play in the league.
On our list of 24, not all have been gassed by their teams. Several have moved to take up opportunities elsewhere. Is it purely money? Are there greater opportunities outside of the game which prompts the move or is it simply career progression? Regardless of motive, Cardiff were open in saying they were compensated for the loss of Ben Blood, but were Coventry compensated for Ainsworth?
Poor Recruitment /Coaching?
The Rupert brothers immediately spring to mind, but both appear to be picking up points since their return to the ECHL. Of course, clubs rely on various methods to pick up players, such as word of mouth or their contacts from years past, but does the blame lie with the contacts, or with the coach making the signings? In the case of the Rupert’s, was it purely the coach not knowing how to play them?
One thing is for sure – The issue with the vast amount of roster changes head resulted in some fans feeling somewhat disconnected from their teams. Coventry have seen 5 netminders this season, Sheffield have lost 6 players already, MK lost arguably their best player, Guildford lost a loyal Brit who was loved by many and Cardiff have lost 2 fan favourites. All mid-season.
There is no doubt the player merry-go-round will continue, but what can teams do to stop the better players in the league from leaving? Or does the EIHL in general need to do more to promote itself and make it more appealing in general?
Information correct at time of publication [12:00 07/12/18] will be updated as things change
Cardiff Devils fan favourite, Justin Faryna, has left the club with immediate effect, citing personal reasons for the decision.
Faryna joined the Devils in 2017 following 2 seasons with the Dundee Stars and was instrumental in their league & playoff success, registering 33 points in 50 league games and 4 points in 4 playoff games.
Despite spending some time on the sidelines injured at the start of the season, Faryna was back amongst the lineup and the news has come as a shock to both fans and management alike.
Managing Director Todd Kelman: ““This came as a big shock to us. Faryna has been a big part of our team since he arrived ahead of the 2017-18 season. He played a massive role in our success last season and was hugely popular with our fanbase.
“I know they will be saddened to see him go, as we all are, but there is life outside of hockey and this is a decision bigger than this game.
“On behalf of the entire organisation, I would like to thank Justin for his contribution to the Devils and wish him well for wherever life takes him.”
Featured image – CardiffDevils.com
The Cardiff Devils have announced their first new face for the 2018/19 season, introducing their fans to 2014 Calder Cup champion Mike Heddon.The announcement was made live on Twitter, with head coach Andrew Lord, owners Steve King, Brian Parker, Kelly Hughes, Craig Soshtak and General Manager Todd Kelman present.
Also announced were returnees Layne Ulmer, Justin Faryna and hometown player Matt Myers.
A veteran of 210 AHL games, mostly for the Texas Stars, Hedden has played his hockey across the pond in Europe since 2014.