While there has been a lot of negative press surrounding the Elite ice hockey League recently, Jono Bullard reckons there’s still quite a lot to be positive about.
It would be easy to think that only bad things happen in the EIHL after all the negative press that the league has received recently. However it isn’t all bad and I wanted to highlight some of the great things about the league and the teams that compete in at as a bit of balance.
Over the past few days there have been some really heartwarming stories that have captured the imagination. Clearly good news doesn’t sell but each of these events deserve to be in the spotlight as they are so overwhelming positive and portray the teams and officials involved in such a good light, which as a consequence showcases the league.
Firstly a couple of stories from the past few days that have been incredibly well received by the hockey community. Blake McCaughey is a 9 year-old Belfast Giants fan who has captured the hearts of not only the Giants but also fans and teams throughout the EIHL. Last Friday nights game between the Giants & Sheffield Steelers was billed as a ‘send off’ night for Blake as he will be travelling to London in May for open heart surgery. In a fantastic move by everyone involved Blake was taken onto the ice and scored a goal with the help of Giants captain Adam Keefe. The goal was allowed to stand and was officially credited to Blake on the gamesheet which has led to him having official profiles on the EIHL website & Elite Prospects as well as being made EIHL Player of the Week. These are all wonderful gestures and credit must go to all involved for giving Blake an experience he will never forget. (You can follow Blake’s progress on Twitter @BlakesWheels)
Secondly a story that has come to light over the past couple of days via Manchester Storm. A blog appeared on the Storm website written by a girl called Emily about her autistic brother Ben. Emily writes that Ben struggled in large crowds and the family had to leave events such as Manchester United football matches due to his discomfort. However since attending Storm matches Ben has found something that he can become fully immersed in and more importantly where he feels safe and comfortable. Not only is it a great story but it also shows the positive strides that clubs are taking to include everyone who wants to watch hockey.
While the spotlight on homophobia has provided some extremely bad press recently, it’s worth remembering that Cardiff Devils embraced the ‘You Can Play’ initiative, stating that anyone can play hockey regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. The club also produced a video to promote their partnership with You Can Play
Talking of Cardiff an incident from their title winning game in Sheffield last Saturday made the news on TSN in Canada. A perfectly timed, legal mid-ice check by Zack Fitzgerald on Andrew Hotham which saw Hotham’s lid end up in the crowd. A check so perfect that not only did it make the news in Canada it should also be taught to aspiring hockey players it was that good. See the tweet below for a video of the check in all its glory.
Several charity initiatives have also been active during the season. For example did you know that Braehead Clan raised £9,525 for a home that cares for service personnel & veterans? Or that Nottingham Panthers raised £7,291 for head injuries charity Headway? These are not isolated fundraising campaigns, clubs up & down the country align themselves with charity partners each season to raise much needed funds.
Of course there are still problems in the EIHL, no independent chairman, issues appearing to be swept under the carpet rather than dealt with etc. But in my view the positive stories such as those highlighted here deserve their place in the spotlight. Clearly the teams, officials and fans are going the extra mile to show themselves in a positive light and for me that is what needs to be showcased around the hockey world. Yes there are negatives which haven’t been dealt with but as embarrassed as we are with them, we have every right to be proud of the positives.