Whilst the NHL doesn’t get under way for another month or so the British top flight started at the weekend. It is bound to be an interesting season for the Elite League with new teams, the Boston bruins and hull’s last minute rise from the dead. But the opening game was also shown live on (cable like broadcaster) skysports. The first such game since the collapse of the Superleague. And 7 more games will follow this season on a Saturday night with a weekly highlights package which is similar to the coverage of the last 4 years.
The live games have not yet been chosen but hopefully will show every team unlike in previous years where the highlights and recorded games concentrated on teams at the top of league.
So what is the Elite League? Started in 2003-2004 season it replaced the Superleague as the top league in the UK. It’s aim at the time was to produce a system for British players to come through via a quota system for foreign trained players (currently 10 or 11 per team depending on the salary paid). There is also a salary cap in place however the top teams have openly agreed to breaking this with Nottingham Panthers management also wanting to scrap the import quota (a la the Superleague system). As a result the influx of British talent to the top flight has stagnated as teams are able to field multiple lines of imports leaving British players on the whole as bench warmers. This has also stagnated the British national team who struggled to 3rd place in the pre Olympic qualifying and 4th place at the world championships division 1.
There is also a cup competition, the challenge cup, that has traditionally thrown up a few surprises with teams from the bottom of the league reaching the final.
The top teams have traditionally been Sheffield, Belfast, Nottingham and Coventry.
The teams for the 2010 – 11 season are;
Braehead Clan (expansion)
Dundee Stars (expansion)
Hull Stingrays (starting the season in October due to being reformed after financial problems)
Next time blueline will be hitting hard against with the ideal British league structure following on from phn’s ideal NHL structure.