Once again devoid of a subject to write about Paul Balm answers questions sent in by readers

Writing a weekly column like this isn’t always as easy as I make it look (stop laughing at the back). Some weeks you can struggle with what to talk about, which often means you can’t write one or it ends up being about a hundred words long (which I appreciate some people might prefer given my tendency to waffle) and not be about very much if anything. There are different reasons for this: some weeks are just devoid of anything worth talking about which means you have to draw on your stock of topics that get kept on the back burner until they’re needed, the thing is they can log out as well. Then there are weeks where you have a topic but when you start writing you realise that if you keep going and say what you want to say you’re going to end up about as popular as Mike O’Connor in a referee’s room. This is one of those weeks. I got about 500 words into something last night and stopped to get a drink, re-read what I’d done and just told myself to stop. And, no, I’m not going to tell you what it was about.

So what do you do in these situations? It varies but if you’re a bit lazy like me you get other people to do your hard work and ask people to come up with topics for you. So, if you’re still here welcome to another #AskPaul “special” where I answer your questions.

With all that in mind the first question (and they’re just done in chronological order) is from Andrew Turnbull (@ajt55) and he asks “Who was your favourite Vipers player out of Cornish, Payette, Angelstad, Myhers and Ferone and why?”

Out of those five I’d probably have to say Cornish. He wasn’t the greatest of players or the best of skaters and he had half a season at Sheffield (nobody’s perfect) but you’ve got to admire his attitude. He’s definitely made a little go a very long way. As for the rest I could never say Angelstad or Ferone because they played for Belfast and as anyone in Belfast will tell you there is a huge rivalry and enmity between the two clubs, I’m a bit scared of Andre Payette and I have no recollection of Myhers whatsoever. Hope that answers your question Andrew but it doesn’t matter what I think I’m sure, to you, they’re all mint and that’s what counts

Next up is a question from @SamBalm9 who I have to say looks vaguely familiar but I can’t quite place him. But anyway he asks “If you could add one rule to the game what would it be?” I know Sam’s asked about adding a new rule and I’ll get to that in a minute but I have to ask my own question of the Elite League here. Can we have 3 on 3 overtime next season please? Who’s with me on this? Have you seen it? It’s manic, exciting to watch and statistics since it was introduced in the NHL show that it’s reduced the number of games going to a penalty shoot-out which has to be a good thing. But that’s only a change to a rule and Sam asked about introducing a new rule so here goes:

Am I the only person that gets fed up of players constantly being thrown out for face off violations? I can’t be. The current rules aren’t doing anything to stop players trying to “cheat” to gain an advantage so how about introducing an additional four face off dots, two either side of the dots in both end zones. I’m not sure how far apart they should be but let’s say a foot. The two players would start at the centre of the five face off circles as they do now, but if the defending player was deemed to have violated the face off rules the player would be thrown out and the face off would then move one dot closer to the goal, cutting down the angles for the attacking team. The face off would move in the opposite direction if the attacking players broke the rules. Does that make sense? Obviously marking this out on the ice might cause a problem in places like Sheffield where ice doesn’t appear to be white but I’m sure the deep thinkers amongst the powers that be could sort that out. What do you think?

Next question is from somebody I’ve never met in my life @JonoBullard and he asks “Do you think Periscope is being underused by clubs and fans?” Now, I’ll admit this confused me for a few minutes because I didn’t realise that a lot of fans were choosing to travel to games in submarines, but after a quick bit of Googling I now understand what Persicope is. Now I know what it is I think it does have its uses. The opportunities aren’t endless but they are rich and varied particularly in the area of given instant reaction to events that have just taken place. Fans could record during intervals or after games giving their opinion on what they’ve just seen. There’s nothing better than capturing that raw emotion of an injustice, big win or whatever. They may turn out to be wrong in the light of day but then you get the comedy value as well. I think teams would need to be more considered but there are still uses for them as well. Periscope is another way for them to get content out to the fans. The Panthers, as an example, for me are too entrenched in their view that social and electronic media are more about advertising or making statements than they are interaction. You only have to look at the newsletter or match preview (which I think, if done right would be a great thing) and the first couple of screens worth are adverts and the same adverts week in week out at that. It puts people off if they have to scroll down to the good stuff but, as ever I’m digressing. Periscope is an ideal tool to publish the post game interviews. In the good times you can throw in fan comments as they come in or you can choose to ignore them, you don’t always HAVE to interact. It isn’t without it’s pitfalls, you have to remember that the media may be different but the quality of the content should be kept. You can’t simply say it doesn’t matter how bad it is if it’s on Periscope, it’s still your product. Having said that though Periscope has great possibilities, people just need to sit down and think about what they do and what it can do for them.

@DavidCarnell asks: “Can you get cornered in a round room & how far can you run into a forest?” Only verbally and not very far (not because of anything to do with when does running in simply become running, but because of the fact that I’m spectacularly unfit and can’t really run any distance into anything).

Finally we’ve got a question from someone who needs no introduction, so he’s not getting one. Andy Haywood (@AndyH89) simply asks “Early Doors or Phoenix Nights?” Looks like we’ve saved the best until last. For me it depends what you’re looking for. If you want a belly laugh, slightly larger than life characters and story lines that both have a hint of the absurd but are just as rooted in real life then it has to be Phoenix Nights. Anyone who knows what you do if you’ve got a drunken horse in your cabaret suite is OK with me (you get it a kebab obviously). On the other hand if you’re looking for a quieter type of comedy that’s exquisitely observed it has to be Early Doors, a show full of characters that we’ve all met. Who doesn’t know someone so tight they squeak when they walk, a philanderer or a man who is clueless at quizzes yet can tell you every set of traffic lights and diversions between the brewery and McVitie Street? Not seen either of them? Then you should. Afterwards either thank me or tell me I know nothing about comedy, I’ll simply add it to the list of subjects people have already mentioned.

OK, that’s it (and it’s quite a bit longer than normal). I’ll definitely do this again not just because I’ll run out of inspiration at some point but mainly because I’ve enjoyed it.

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