So this week I wanted to post my Telford weekend review and a post on a couple of links. Today's news has, however, taken over somewhat. The Manchester Phoenix have signed Andrew Sharp! Shortwaves have fanned out through UK hockey, and fans across the country have wade into the debate. Mostly negative I get the impression!
The general feeling is, how could Tony Hand, the greatest British hockey player to have skated the ice, sign such a knuckle dragger. Personally I would say, if there is one person who could tempt a hockey player out of someone..it is Tony Hand. I fear hockey fans, including the majority of the Phoenix support are forgetting what Tony has done with Clouthier and Payette in previous seasons. I want to make it clear that I am now Andrew Sharp appreciation society, im willing to give the guy a chance to prove himself in a Phoenix shirt. Im just surprised by the level of hatred (yes I went there) this signing has provoked. I know he is no angel, but seriously, he's not played a minute on the ice for the Phoenix yet! He could be crap, but he could be exactly what we need! Why not give him a few games before deciding on him.
The signing has prompted alot of chat on twitter/forums from opposing EPL teams, all of which is negative and going along the lines of, he is a goon and can't skate or do anything. If he is a goon, he is as much of a goon as the Greener brothers, Nicky Chinn, Mr Wiggins, Ryan or Nicky Watt.
For me Richard Allen on the Phoenix forum summed it up perfectly for me:
'When we signed Brett Clouthier we were signing a player who'd been let go by the Steelers who was being looked into for an alleged 'eye gouging' incident and was know for being something of a 'knuckle-dragger', and he went on to become a Phoenix legend who is much loved by the fan base.
When we signed Andre Payette we were signing a player who was routinely booed by the opposition, branded as nothing more than a 'donkey', and he went on to become a Phoenix legend who is much loved by the fan base.
We've now signed Andrew Sharp, a played whose reputation has preceded him to the tune of seventeen pages on the forum, and whose actions in a Phoenix jersey will decide how the fan base responds to him'
Apart from Payette probably being a fan favorite rather than a legend, I agree with Richard there, Tony has proved he can handle a player with a reputation, and he would not have signed Andrew without thinking it through fully. On that basis im willing to trust in Tony/Neil and give Andrew the benefit of the doubt. I will reserve judgement until I have seen him play a few games. I would strongly urge my fellow Phoenix fan's to do the same! Facebook pages have been set up in protest and for those of you who are thinking about not attending games as a result of this signing.....are you serious? One player on a squad of 17 is making you think about not attending another Phoenix game....? Overreaction much?
Though I will admit, his picture on the official Phoenix article does make him look like a bit of a lunatic!
One thing is for certain, its a polarising signing and one that has created so much talk about the Phoenix and hockey in the UK. This weekend, and especially sunday's game, has to be one of the most anticipated weekends in a while!
Announcement from the official Phoenix site.