Sundays are supposed to be a day of quiet & rest for most, especially now with nearly all of the on-ice action for British clubs done & dusted for the 2013/2014 season. Those active on the various social media platforms last Sunday evening, will have witnessed the remarkable statement of allegations from former Hull Stingrays player Matt Suderman, go viral in the UK hockey community.
The original source of the statement has since removed the article, I have delayed the release of this blog almost 8 days in order to give the Hull Stingrays a right of reply to the allegations, as I had contacted them shortly after the story broke. To which I haven’t received any at this juncture. Should the club still wish to do so, I’m obviously very easy to get a hold of, and would very happily add any remarks the club make to this blog. The closest to any answer regarding the recent turmoil, can be found in owner Bobby McEwan’s statement on Monday.
While the original Suderman statement can no longer be viewed, I will stress like I did last Sunday that these were merely allegations from one player (serious ones at that) and regardless of the truth of these remarks, it does give some very interesting matters for both clubs and fans to ponder.
Firstly I want to state that every Import that comes to play their trade in the EIHL has my utmost respect, a great many travel half the world to work nearly 7 months in the UK. A lot don’t have a guaranteed income during the summer months, and many have partners or family, a few of which are fortunate enough to bring with them to the UK.
So that brings me to the main topic at hand, the much maligned EIHL contracts. If they do not do so already, is it now time to ensure these contracts will detail what amenities the club will, & will not provide to each player they sign? For those that have read Matt Suderman’s comments, one thing I think everyone can agree on is the man was clearly very aggrieved at his experience with the club. Would a more in-depth contract, detailing where the club’s financial responsibilities end and the player’s ones begin have prevented the situation? The true answer is of course for this situation at least, we will never know. It does however provide merit to at least explore this particular avenue, in order to ensure a certain level of treatment for the players that come to these shores. At the end of the day, the reputation of the EIHL, and its respective clubs are on the line each and every season. Bad word of mouth from players always spreads further & wider than good word of mouth. (As this particular situation demonstrates.)
Folk have pointed to the 3-year deal penned by Matty Davies the following morning as stark proof against the Suderman claims. I feel obliged to point out that not only is Matty Davies a British player, he is from and also resides in the city of Hull, thus his circumstances are vastly different to that of any Import. The true “acid test” will be what the other Imports decide to make of their future, though admittedly the results of that test will be somewhat distorted by the departure of their Player/Coach these past 5-years, Sylvain Cloutier. Loyalty is a rare commodity in the business of sport, but one of the most powerful. How many of the likes of Tendler & Silverthorn stuck around because of Cloutier? Time will provide us that particular answer.
It has also been pointed out that the plight of players in other regions of the world is far worse to anything that Matt Suderman has alleged to, and while this is very likely true, that does not provide any rhyme or reason for clubs in the UK to have lower standards just because circumstances are worse elsewhere. All we can influence is what happens here in these shores with our own clubs, matters on the ice and off it are not exclusive, they go hand in hand. If too much emphasis is placed on one, it irrevocably damages the other, the needs of both have to be balanced to ensure any club is both competitive and viable.
Our Imports play such a key role in our league, and while over the years to come the limit may gradually reduce, that will not stop them being integral to the quality of play we see on the ice. Let’s ensure all of them get the proper off-ice treatment they deserve for coming to our country 7 months a year to both entertain us, and try to further the on-ice fortunes of our respective clubs.
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