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December, 2009:

Manchester Phoenix To Join EPL

The Story and Reaction from Ben Knight of the Manchester Phoenix Official Podcast

Following a week of speculation, tonight Phoenix owner Neil Morris confirmed that the Manchester side would withdraw from the Elite League and join the English Premier League.

In a meeting with fans at the Britannia Hotel in Portland Street, Morris explained that financial restructuring is required to ensure the stability of the team and to sustain the franchise in whichever form it takes.

Paramount to the long-term future of ice hockey in Manchester is an achievable budget, prepared and detailed for ultimate stand-alone sustainability without reliance upon one individual. We have some fantastic sponsors, we have an incredible hard core of supporters and we need to grow them both as we look to the future.

We all believe that the English Premier League offers not only a great challenge for Tony Hand and his team on the ice, but also the best opportunity to ensure the long-term future for the club and the sport in Manchester.

It was also indicated to fans that a number of British imports including former Coventry back-up Steven Fone had already been signed up by coach Tony Hand. Fone has already turned out for the Phoenix, most notably back stopping them to a famous win over the Belfast Giants two seasons ago in Altringham.

Morris promised that the Phoenix would sign top level imports in order to successfully compete in at the highest level in the EPL.

Reaction has already come from the Elite League at the Phoenix withdrawl. A statement on the official website from Elite League Chairman Eamonn Convery expressed the leagues feelings at losing Manchester.

Of course, it is extremely disappointing that Neil Morris and his team of people in Manchester have chosen to withdraw and we wish them every success in the English Premier League

Convery also indicated that the league would continue with 8 teams, despite on going rumours of various teams wishing to join the EIHL.

The Elite League will now operate with eight clubs and with many of them already announcing exciting player signings, the prospects for another thrilling season of Elite League ice hockey are enthralling.

There is interest in how this will be received by other clubs, especially those with whom Manchester fought for change in the EIHL.

Further comment is available around the league.
Breakaway British Hockey Blog gives it’s views
Five Minute Major gives a breakdown of the evenings info.
Manchester Phoenix Official Podcast will have interviews later this evening recorded tonight at the Britannia Hotel.

Response to the Cloutier Interview

Tuesday’s UKHL interview with Sylvain Cloutier prompted quite a response from across the Atlantic. His comment that other coaches suggested he was “Back Doored” out of his job with the Ice Rays was picked up by Greg Rajan, who prompted the current coach for a response.

Sylvain himself was also given a right to reply.

You can listen to the full interview here

An interesting take on the interview. Cloutier was obviously unhappy at his exit and, as he points out, he does not claim directly that he was ‘backdoored’, but remarks that other coaches have suggested as such.

With Cloutier now being Hull Player-Coach, he has the opportunity to put the experience behind him and prove his coaching ability in the EIHL. We wish him well with that.

20/20 Hockeyfest

This Sunday sees the Elite League undertake something new.

20/20 Hockeyfest will involve all 8 EIHL teams, and UKHL will be there to
bring you the news, action and reaction from the Sheffield Arena.

Over the course of the day we’ll have interviews with players, officials
and fans, as well as live text coverage from all of the days 7 games.

You’ll be able to follow the games and all the action off the ice too, here
on UKHL.

And if you’re at Hockeyfest, you can come and give your opinion.

Patrick, Marty and the UKHL team, will also be prowling about the Sheffield
Arena looking for your views and reactions to what is going on. So dont be
afraid to come up and give your take on the games and the day.

More information on UKHL’s coverage of 20/20 HockeyFest in this thursdays
regular “LIVE This Weekend” blog.

20/20 Rules

Sylvain Cloutier Interview

UKHL chats with new Player-Coach of the Hull Stingrays, Sylvain Cloutier about the ‘Rays,his coaching experiences in the CHL and his recruitment approach for this season.

Many thanks to Sylvain for taking the time to chat.


Uncertain Future for Manchester in Elite League

There has been speculation of late regarding the future of the Manchester Phoenix. Prior to the Playoff Finals weekend an official website report stated the Phoenix were;

” preparing to stand their corner and if necessary, battle all the way with six of the Elite League clubs who appear ready and prepared to cast adrift those clubs they see as the poor relations of the league”.

The robust support of the Manchester fans was also evident at the Finals weekend, they along with the Newcastle fans being some of the most vocal in the cries of “Six Team League You’re Having a Laugh”.

However it seems that following the league discussions of Monday 6th April, in which the 9 remaining teams gained apparent “agreement” on the future of the EIHL, Phoenix General Manager, Andy Costigan stated through that;

“We’re also re-visiting all areas of the club budgets and cash-flow projections as costs and overheads are not always static and it’s very important that we get this crucial area of the business plan right before we go to press with other things.”

This led to speculation among fans that despite the leagues public announcement of league wide agreement, Manchester were still considering their situation.

The early signing of Tony Hand as coach for 3 seasons stated an intention by Manchester management to retain one of the EIHL’s foremost talent both on the ice and in recruitment. This season Hand’s team, despite only finishing 6th in the league, cleaned up in the post season awards dinner, with David Alexandre Beauregard lifting the player of the season award among other phoenix accolades.

Forum speculation re-ignited amid comments from Vipers GM Jamie Longmuir at the Vipers Fans Forum last Friday. With Newcastle being among the original “3 teams” that were reportedly “excluded” from league discussions back in March, Jamie states that he “had spoken with Phoenix owner Neil Morris on a number of occasions in the last few weeks”, and agreed that “it is looking likely [Manchester] would make the move to the EPL”. Longmuir went on to mention that a decision has not been made regarding how fixtures would be structured were Manchester to leave the league, with 4 home games and 4 away games per team not being an options “overly favoured by clubs”. (For further look at Longmuir, Ferone and Wilsons comments, see our blow-by-blow report from Newcastle)

Confirmation of Manchesters future is expected on Thursday night when owners face a full house of Phoenix fans at the Britannia Hotel for a “planning unveiling” in which the team are ” keen to offer our supporters a public chance to have their questions answered”. Fans from across the country will look on for news of exactly where Manchester will compete next season, the choices made could have various repercussions to the EIHL and EPL alike.

UKHL is hoping to bring you instant reaction from the Britannia Hotel on Thursday night.

VipersHockey: Longmuir looks Back and Forth

Following a successful “Drive for 5” weekend for the Vipers both on and off the ice, GM Jaimie Longmuir spoke with UKHL for VipersHockey about the weekend, the move to Whitley Bay and the new addition to the Vipers roster.

Available at

Gardiner Cup Interviews

Interviews from  the Gardiner Cup in Edinburgh.

Graeme Walton

Rob Stewart:

Sean McMorrow:

Derek Wills, Hamilton Bulldogs Play-by-Play announcer:

Will, a Hamilton fan who travelled from Manitoba:

Denise, a Toronto native and her friend Syd:

Caps fan Hamish Campbell-Jack speaking after 2 periods of Capitals v Marlies:

A View From The Bridge – July Edition

UKHL presents the July Edition of “A View From The Bridge” for the Kingdom of The Giants website.

A View from the Bridge is the long running Belfast Giants unofficial podcast. Entering it’s 5th season, it aims to bring “all the news and views on the Coors Belfast Giants and the Elite Ice Hockey League”

Vipers Hockey interview with Todd Griffith

In UKHL’s continued co-operation with, we are delighted to produce an interview with returning Vipers forward Todd Griffith.

Available Here

Dave Simms Interview

In an always frank interview, Dave Simms chats to UKHL about the Steelers, the EIHL past, present and future and his opinions on the playoff weekend events among many other subjects.

Many Thanks to Dave for taking the time to do the interview.

Take a Deep Breath.. here we go…