Scramble In Front: Alphabets, Breakups and Controversy

Yes, Chasing Dragons is back. Thanks to having to find a job AND a house for me and my fiancée, who’s moving over from Belfast in the New Year (oh, and the horrendous incompetence of BT, who make Corey Neilson’s off-season recruitment look like it has a logical and well-defined strategy) I’ve not been on the Internet much the past few days. But it’s OK, cause nothing happened in the Elite League, right?

Well, nothing if you don’t count Team Great Britain making it through to the final round of Olympic qualifiers, a game that tested my abilities to make hockey interesting to the absolute limit and a minor cataclysm in Braehead. Let’s make sense of the chaos, shall we?

RULE BRITANNIA! Well, until they face the big guns in February, anyway:

Team GB have managed to fight their way through to the last hurdle between them and the 2014 Winter Olympics, after winning their pre-qualifying group in Japan this week.

Naturally, this has caused great excitement amongst the GB fanbase, with lots of talk of how great the achievement is, how the GB programme is bearing fruit once again and how it’s not long before team GB will be playing with the big guns if they keep up the current improvement…

Whoa, Britain. Hold ya horses a little.

Without wishing to denigrate the achievements of the GB team (after all, this is the closest the GB hockey team have got to the Olympics since they won the whole shebang in…um…1936)-the work starts now.

In the pre-qualification group the Lions beat Japan, Korea and Romania. Now, these are all decent nations, but what everyone is missing in their “underdog comes through” rhetoric is this:

GB were the highest-ranked in their group.

That’s right. They’re, in the definition of the IIHF, the best team in that qualifying group-one place ahead of Japan and six and seven ahead of Korea and Romania.

Now they go on to face Latvia, France, and Kazakhstan in Riga in February. THIS is a real test-Latvia are 11th in the world, France are 14th and Kazakhstan 17th.

More to the point, they all have international federations who have actually seen the international team as something worth committing more than a paltry budget to over the past few seasons.

We’ll see if IHUK actually bother to send media this time, what with it being the biggest competition Team GB have been involved in since they played in Pool A of the World Championships in the early 90s. If they need a PBP guy, fairly sure I could make some time in my schedule for February. I even have a working knowledge of Latvian. SARAUJ GB!

In Braehead, The Alphabet Has 25 Letters…

because they’ve never heard of “D”.

Now you’ve stopped groaning, we can make a serious point. What in the name of sweet holy puck is going on at the Braehead Arena? Off the ice (as I wrote earlier this season) they’re going from strength to strength. On it, they’re struggling mightily, being tanked 8-4 by Edinburgh this weekend. Definitely not the form of a team many (including me) expected to dominate the Gardiner Conference this season. A team with the likes of Drew Miller, Garrett Zemlak and Jade Galbraith should be winning a lot more games then they are.

They’ve already made one change, bringing in Davided Nicoletti on defence…and yet the goals continue to come. So naturally, Jordan Krestanovich’s move is to chop Ryan Campbell (no points this season, which is a bit horrendous for an import, and embarrassing for me as I picked him as the Clan’s unsung hero in my preseason preview) and also Bobby Chaumont, who despite his 18 points was adjudged expendable.

Relationship Issues:

Chaumont’s release leads me nicely onto another point, too…the relationship between players and fans. It seems fractious up in Glasgow nowadays, with Chaumont having a barely-veiled dig at the Clan faithful yesterday, tweeting “you got your wish, Glasgow” barely days after Ryan Watt appeared to embrace the traditions in Gorgie, Scotstounhill or Govan by challenging a fan who criticised him to a scrap. Well, not in so many words, but “I could have you easily” probably isn’t a chat-up line, put it that way.

With the EIHL social media policy proving to be about as effective as a eunuch’s dangly bits at doing its job so far (sure, Devin DiDiomete and several other players have been fined for tweets but if a system has repeat offenders twice in a week there’s probably not much respect for it) and now the line between fans and players seeming to get ever more fractious this season (we had the Cardiff incident, this and also a bottle being thrown at a Trafford player at an NIHL game in Coventry this weekend)-maybe it’s time for everyone to calm down a little?

No Spleen Left Unvented

Finally, shamelessly nicking from the Banners On The Wall blog, I’m inviting you, dear readers, to send in your questions, mailbag style, for me to answer in a future post (probably this Friday). Ask it about hockey in general, the EIHL, its personalities, or what I think about the no-touch icing rule.  No question too big, too small or too controversion. As long as it’s not going to get me sued for libel, I’ll probably answer. 

To get your question in, tweet @fourthlinewing your question with the hashtag #askchasingdragons or email askchasingdragons@gmail.com, and we’ll hopefully have some fun talking hockey. You’ve got until Friday.

Happy quizzing, and see you tomorrow, Internet permitting…

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