The 2016/17 Elite League season sees the level of non-British talent allowed in the league rise to 14. Many people will think that this is a positive move for the league but what will this mean for young British players looking to gain appropriate ice time?
There is no denying that the 2015/16 Elite League season is going to have the most exciting end that has ever been seen. Currently the top five teams are separated by just six points with only two weeks remaining in the regular season campaign.
The interest isn’t only at the top of the standings, as the battle for the remaining Play Off place also has huge interest with five points separating the teams in eighth and ninth.
However how much support does the Elite League give to British players and Team GB?
In February of this year the GB men’s team travelled to Italy to take part in Olympics qualifiers for the 2018 games. Unfortunately they came up just short after losing out to the host nation 6-2.
The Italian team were given weeks to prepare for this tournament showing how important the Olympics is to them. However the Elite Leagues clubs were still playing less than a week before the Olympics Qualifiers began.
In fact, the League even had fixtures on the weekend that team GB were competing with teams forced to go without any players that were picked to participate.
The increase in Import numbers in the past has seen players move down to the English Premier League.
Players such as Matt Towe who played for the Belfast Giants in 2012/13 season and Kevin Phillips who has played for the Braehead Clan and the Belfast Giants over a six year span have been forced to move down to the English Premier League to get ice time.
With players of this calibre available and able to be signed is there a need for the import levels to be increased, especially when in the long run it is going to hurt Team GB?
The Elite League and British Ice Hockey should be helping each other out and be on the same page when it comes to Ice Hockey in the UK. At the moment it seem like both want to get the best for each other and not work together. I can’t see this being resolved anytime soon and expect the Team GB Ice Hockey team to be a casualty of this with players not getting enough ice time and being left behind in their World Championship Group.