Things We Learned This Weekend: Rivalries, Referees and Redemption.

Happy Monday, y’all.

Time to run through the events of the weekend and, at the same time not get fired:

The Biggest Hockey Love-In In Europe

Once upon a time, about eleven years ago, two British hockey teams had a match in February. This match contained a bench-clearing brawl that became quite popular on Youtube.

Granted, everyone loves a scrap or two, but this isn’t anything particularly special in the annals of bench clearing brawls.

The trouble is, since then we’ve never been allowed to forget this scrap, mainly because every time Sheffield and Nottingham have met we’re informed it’s “The BIGGEST RIVALRY IN UK HOCKEY” or “THE MOST INTENSE IN EUROPE!” by either Dave Simms or the Panthers PR team.

Living aside the fact that the laughable “most intense rivalry in Europe” claim clearly shows none of the Panthers or Steelers PR team have been to the Rheinderby (Cologne v Dusseldorf), the Helsinki or Stockholm derbies in Scandinavia or the Prague Derby between Slavia and Sparta (to name but four hockey rivalries that make Steelers-Panthers look like a candlelit dinner for lovers), it appears even the teams themselves can’t really be bothered to care any more.

This is a rivalry in which the two teams play golf together for charity. A rivalry in which the teams cordially arrange to start backups in a meeting between each other for “fairness”, because the game is a Challenge Cup game and “doesn’t mean anything” (somehow, they still got 6,000 gullible fans through the doors with their “RIVALRY!” schtick).

It’s not even a proper rivalry any more-certainly not the biggest in British hockey. One bench clearance twelve years ago is the basis for a sham rivalry created purely to continue selling tickets-a rivalry that even Sheffield and Nottingham fans themselves struggle to generate any heat in, never mind anyone else.

Rivals don’t play golf together. Rivals don’t cordially agree to start their backups because a game between them “means nothing”.

You want a British hockey rivalry with real hate in it? One that’s the product of genuine heat and antipathy?

Try Edinburgh v Fife (pure local hatred honed and reformed over at least 30 years). Or Coventry v Cardiff (built on two similar teams with similar fanbases who have had some truly epic battles) Or even Coventry v Nottingham. (pure, raw, non-PR driven hate).

They’re rivalries. The Steelers/Nottingham sham is merely a lover’s tiff and a distant memory that’s being clung to by two teams and fanbases who can’t admit that, after all, their own “big rivalry” has now become just another game.

Trouble Is Black And White

Referees.

They’re a strange breed. After all, they have to be willing to take abuse night after night, and are usually ranked just above Dave Simms and below Brad Voth in most UK hockey fans’ estimations.

But, lordy, some of them in the UK don’t make it easy for themselves.

Andy Carson is under attack by both Blaze and Nottingham fans again today after he threatened to let Sunday’s Blaze/Panthers game get out of control, allowing a dubious Nottingham equaliser two weeks after handing out misconducts like confetti in the Blaze v Giants Firework Night Frenzy. Suffice to say that as a result he’s not the most popular person in Coventry right now.

Interestingly, Tom Darnell seems to be a little more popular on his return to Cardiff after the Blaze v Devils brawl a few weeks ago, though. In fact, contrary to their reviews of him after that game Devils fans seem to like him a bit more this time. It can’t possibly be due to the fact that, this time, the Devils won the game he was reffing.

Can it?

Maybe The Mayans Were Right

Paul Bissonnette.

NHL agitator. Twitter celebrity. Never scored more than 42 points in a season (for Wheeling in the ECHL). Generally seen as a wind-up merchant and muscle rather than a sniper/pointscoring forward. 

Now 5+8 in 5 games for Cardiff.

On pace for a hundred point season in the EIHL.

I don’t know about you, but if this continues, I’d get the canned food ready and prepare to head for the basement on December 21st, just in case.

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