Whilst the boys are away in Slovenia with national team it appears the gossip will commence. Top of the rumours list are the Coventry Blaze and the Hull Stingrays.
Both sides that currently compete in the EIHL are owned by the same parent company but midway through last season they announced financial problems surrounding the Coventry Blaze. At the time the Blaze did a massive effort to bring in money from fans and released two players to ease the budget. Coach Paul Thompson also resigned his post as national team boss and the owners also announced that they were looking for new owners for the Hull Stingrays but would continue to operate the club until that time.
At the time it was said that the situation going forward regarding the teams would be assessed at the end of the season. That time has now
come and two rumours have hit the headlines. Firstly it is rumoured that the Coventry Blaze and possibly the Hull Stingrays have applied to join the second tier English Premier League for next season. Some rumours have also suggested that either the Coventry Blaze or both the Stingrays and the Blaze have been refused entry.
It would be a bitter pill to swallow for the EIHL if the 4 time champion Blaze did step down but with few rumours circulating so far this season about an imposed salary cap for the EIHL it is easy to understand why this rumour may be taken more seriously. However the Blaze have resigned Canadian Shea Guthrie and have been selling EIHL season tickets for next season.
Hull Stingrays are also muted to be in a takeover bid. Former player and current Manchester Phoenix forward Slava Koulikov appears to be inte
rested in heading back to the club that brought the Ukrainian to the UK. Koulikov has been touted as a target for the Stingrays since the post season and would be a valuable resigning with his duel nationality meaning he wouldn’t be counted against the import quota. Now though it appears that the 33 year old is thinking of his retirement and could be planning on taking the club on.
The rumours surrounding the future of the Coventry Blaze and the Hull Stingrays has lead to the resurfacing of the perennial off-season favourite that the Manchester Phoenix will return to the EIHL. This will be more 2 + 2 = 5 but wi
th head coach Tony Hand currently
behind the bench of national side in Slovenia this rumour has been given a little bit more spice.
With the GB team currently in the World Championships in Slovenia a lot of the real rumours regarding player moves are yet to come. However with the Cardiff Devils resigning netminder Phil Osaer there will be some rumours to come as current goalie and former GB international Stevie Lyle will not be returning to his hometown club. The Sheffield Steelers are looking to be favourites to sign him at the moment after John De Caro left to replace Osaer at Norwegian side Sarpsborg Sparta Warriors although they are rumoured to be looking at Garrett Zemlak from Fife.
Also with GB defenseman Ben O’Connor making an impression in Kazakhstan there are rumours around that other GB players including Stephen Murphy and Robert Dowd could be making the move to leagues in the former USSR.