Thread: Great Britain: Hockey in Britain
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09-01-2006, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Shootmaster_44 View Post
How does Great Britain do internationally? Are there any British talents that NHL fans should take note of?
We're currently ranked 31st in the World, dropped from 25th last year as we didn't enter 2006 Olympic qualification ( We've been in division 1 a fair few years now, though back in the mid 90s we were rubbing shoulders with the big guns after (albeit brief) promotion and played at Nagano in 1998. Back then we were entirely made up of dual-national Canadian Brits. Nowadays the team is all young British lads with just one dual-nat, I think the average age is 23 with a couple of teenagers in the lineup. Our junior teams are making a mark though, and the generation coming through the system now looks to have a ton of potential.

As for British talent, Scotsman Colin Shields was drafted by the Flyers back in 2000 after top-scoring in the college ranks for Maine, but he's struggled to crack the AHL and will probably never make it to the show. He's just signed for the ECHL's Texas Wildcatters. Manchester Phoenix's (my local team) current player-coach, Tony Hand, was drafted by Edmonton in 1986 and one of their assistant coaches at the time called him the smartest player in camp aside fron Gretzky. Had he not got homesick he could well have made the Oilers roster as a regular, such is his talent. His decision to return home cost this country's development more than we could have ever seen. Even at age 39 he still has his game. LA prospect Danny Taylor is apparently British by birth and supposedly leant some of his hockey here, but his nationality is unconfirmed as websites are split on his birthplace - some say Plymouth, UK, others say Ottawa. '88-born Ben O'Connor is one to watch out for with the Windsor Spitfires, can play both positions and is supposed to be one of our best talents. Shattuck-St. Mary's Danny Wood could have the best chance of all to make a name in North America, still only 17 and already putting big points up. John Dewar (Prince George Spruce Kings), Tom Duggan (also Shattuck-St. Mary's), Joe Greener (Cleveland Junior Barons), Martin Clarkson (Lake Placid) and Kurt Reynolds (Hartford Junior Wolfpack) are other good young Brits in North America. There are several more over here with potential. Hull's Steve Lee was the best D-man on his team last year at age 15, James Neil in Nottingham and Jamie Line in Bracknell are 16 years old and featuring regularly in their teams.

Originally Posted by Shootmaster_44 View Post
As far as European leagues go where does Britain stand? I've heard the Elite league is around Austria's calibre. Is this more due to the imports the teams have or is there enough local talent to back up this claim?
I'd say it's a bit lower, probably equal with France and Italy. Its due to the imports, yes, the Elite is going into its fourth year of existence and the Brits are only just beginning to establish themselves with regular places, helped by a dropping import limit (10 this season, 12 in 03/04 and 11 for the previous two years). The local talent is emerging now they have a place on the top sides, we're gradually healing the damage of the late '90s and early '00s.

Originally Posted by Shootmaster_44 View Post
On a sidenote, I'm not sure if its available anywhere (might want to check out or one of the other video posting sites), but I did see a Passionate Eye (CBC Newsworld documentary show) a few months back about how the Belfast Giants are doing wonders to calm the tensions between the Catholics and the Protestants in the city. Weird how a sport like soccer which seems relatively tame on the field can cause such violence amongst the fans, but hockey, a sport that is inherently violent, can cause peace amongst the fans.
It's the only truly "professional" sport in Northern Ireland and the only one that does not declare an allegiance to one particular faith. Not a single incident has been recorded at a Giants game due to the religious divide, and for that they have to be commended. Soccer, however, is another matter, but you don't want to get me started on that...

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