Right so back to one of my original posts that I wanted to kick off my blog with, but along the way I got distracted by a few things! Namely the troubles over the weekend with the Bison/Caps and the whole ridiculous media driven witch hunt against Mr Ross and Mr Brand! (though im not condoning what they did!)
So here we go, we are a fair few games into this season and ive decided to offer my thoughts on the Phoenix so far this season!
Over the summer I was pleased to see the league introduce a rule that allowed the lower placed teams of the 0708 season an extra import slot on the team. As a fan of a recipient team of that particular rule I was excited to see what effect this would have on the Phoenix. I certainly didn’t think it would result in our club being in the top half of the table!!
This particular rule has a great future for clubs in this league, by allowing the so-called ‘lesser’ clubs an extra import; theoretically, they can sign an improved roster. Improved roster = better results = more bums on seats = more money in the bank = longer-term survival. That theory however has only kind of worked for the Phoenix (as it stands right now). We have a strong squad, crowds are up and we are playing well and winning games. We are, in a way, unique in the league in the way we have taken advantage of this rule. The main two reasons we are doing as well as we are, I think, are:
Firstly, sign a British nettie. I have to be honest when we signed ‘Smurf’ I was a little worried. The one position I thought should always be filled by an import was the goalie. However a couple of games in and I stand corrected! Smurf is an excellent goalie and so long as our D looks after him, he is as good as most other goalie in the league!
Secondly having Tony Hand as player/coach, He is import quality and having him as coach means his wages don’t count towards the salary cap. This works great for the Phoenix as any money set aside for his place in the roster can be spread across the rest of the team.
Thirdly (and I know its not as a result of the 11 import rule, but It all adds up) the quality of our Brits is the highest its ever been, I was so happy that Adam resigned and we captured Boothroyd too! Our Brits really have helped to create strong three line hockey at the Phoenix. Something we have not had before, and something which means we are in the top half of the table!
Right onto the team, this is by far the most hard working and skillful team we have seen at the Phoenix. Over the summer I was worried, as Tallari left, as Basiuk left, after Mangos was not resigned I really started to wonder how well we could do this season. However I should not have doubted Tony at all!
So far Smurf has exceeded my expectations, and with a full season of Elite hockey behind him I fully believe he will become a great netminder. Not sure what to think on Adam, while I have no doubts he is an excellent goalie, I wonder where/when he will get ice time. It’s a catch 22, I want him to get ice time, but I worry if he were to go in net for us that he may concede a lot of goals. But if he is to become an elite nettie he has to start somewhere!
The defence is way better than the 0708 D. Not many walk about so far this season, and good contributions to attacking play whilst also looking after Smurf. There has only been a couple of occasions (mainly v Nottingham) when our D has gone away and left Smurf exposed. Hopefully with time these instances will get worked on and go away!
Our forwards, well as mentioned I was sad Tallari left, but in comes David Beauregard and everyone is saying………Tallari who? This guy is immense, everyone will be familiar with his situation but the way he plays/works/fights and by all accounts is a thoroughly nice bloke he could be the best player to pull on a Phoenix shirt! Ably assisted by the evergreen Tony Hand our top line is a dream. Our second line is not much further behind, after a slight hiccup…..Grant who?…..the second line has picked up from the hard working until of 0708 to add skill and goals for this season! Brett has carried on and got better, and now we have Burnett who, if his debut goal for the Phoenix is anything to go by, will turn out to be an excellent signing. Finally our third line, This is where the biggest improvement has been, having a quality 3rd line has, and in Bretts MEN column has stated, gives the top two lines more rest and a chance to recharge. This will ultimately decide where we finish in the league table this time around!
So I do hope ive not bored you to death with that one, but that is pretty much what I think of the team so far this year!