Paul Balm Column 8th February

You might have noticed that it snowed this weekend. You might also have noticed that those who continually seek out opportunities to berate the Panthers have been out in force because we didn’t travel to Edinburgh. We get the facts that other teams travelled thrown at us as evidence of our… well I don’t know what really.

We didn’t travel to Edinburgh but right now we don’t know exactly why. The club simply stated that the game had been cancelled as we were unable to travel due to the conditions caused by the snowfall of the previous evening. The question is who made that call? Was it the club? There were reports of players being unable to get to the NIC to get on the coach (rumours that Neil Clark now wishes he lived in Nottingham are unfounded at this time). Was it the coach company? We simply don’t know. I think it’s more likely that it was the club and I believe they made the right decision.

There’s something that the people who want to use the snow to hide the rocks they’re throwing need to remember – we’re talking about a game of ice hockey, we’re not talking about life and death. If we didn’t travel the game would be re-scheduled for a later date (something that has now occurred). Those throwing snowballs seem to forget that Panthers have nothing to gain from not travelling to Edinburgh for the game. We’ve already got the Challenge Cup Final dates in addition to the league schedule so why would we want another game on top of that? We wouldn’t.

There’s another factor – the fans. Panthers knew fans would be travelling and given the distance to Edinburgh they knew they would be setting off early and, therefore, had to make a decision regarding their safety as well. I believe that the Panthers have a certain duty of care to those fans that were making the trip. They can’t be held responsible for their fans’ choice to drive to Edinburgh but the safety of those fans has to be a factor in any decision that was made. OK, it didn’t help the fan I heard about this week who was just north of Preston on a Megabus when he found out it was off, but I guess that couldn’t be helped and fair play to him for making the trip by public transport.

Talking of public transport some wag suggested we should have travelled by train. Last time I looked trains don’t have luggage compartments anymore and I’m pretty sure you’d have problems getting your kit bag and sticks on the overhead racks. OK, last time I caught a train a man got on with a satellite dish and a guitar but would the person who suggested letting the train take the strain care to suggest where Craig “Sausage Boy” (why do people admit to these things on TV?) Kowalski should put his pads? Thinking about it, maybe Hirch’s over-reaction last Sunday was down to Marc Levers making a similar suggestion!

To be honest I think the whole thing has been blown out of all proportion purely to be used as a stick to beat the Panthers with. Interestingly I’ve just been told that more snow is expected early next week, Tuesday, Wednesday time. I do hope it doesn’t stop us travelling to, now where is it again? If we couldn’t travel then I think some people might explode.

The weather has sort of over-shadowed the other hockey news for those of us in Nottingham. Brad Voth’s retired and I for one think it’s a sad day for British ice hockey. I have to say I was never especially fond of the Robbie Savage look-a-like or a lot of his antics that were, frankly Robbie Savage-esque but ice hockey in this country needs characters like him. The sport is filled with players who come in, take their money, play with greater or lesser degrees of heart, enjoy the bunnies and then leave for foreign shores at the end of the season (possibly sooner if the chance arrives). Even if they are a character a season isn’t enough for the fans to build up any sort of disliking for a player. To reach the panto villain that the likes of Voth enjoy takes years and the way things are going I think we’ll see those sorts of players less and less over here which can’t be good for the sport. With no Voth or Finnerty on the ice next season (although I’ve no doubt Ryan will try and make up for it from behind Sheffield’s bench) I think British ice hockey will be a sadder place.

There’s one thing that doesn’t really ring true to me though – the timing. Why announce your immediate retirement literally days after the transfer deadline. We keep getting told how much Voth loves the Devils and I’ve absolutely no doubt that he does so why would he put them in a position where they can’t bring a player in to take his place? I won’t say replace him. Did he really make the decision in those few days or if he didn’t are we to believe that Cardiff didn’t know about it. I suppose both could be true but somehow I really don’t believe it. If I was a Cardiff fan those would be the questions I would be asking.


1 Response to “Paul Balm Column 8th February”

  1. 1 Fiona February 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    I’m going to miss Voth, annoying as he is but was thrilled to hear about Hoffman’s return to Belfast. Any player who can get away with dressing like a 6’5″ elf is pretty cool in my book! More characters please!

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