MK Lightning’s New Elite Team

I hold no shame in saying that I am new to the Ice Hockey Family. This is the first time in my 35 years gracing this world that I have become more involved in club hockey than simply a rare game out for a different sort of night out. I’m a noob there’s no doubt, I understand the more fundamental rules of the game, but I am not quite up to speed at calling all penalties in real time – but I’m getting better.

The fact that the better half enjoys going just as much if not more than I do has helped us go to a reasonable number of MK Lightning games the season just gone. We even made sure we took in an NHL game when we went to New York (Go Islanders!).

We even contemplated buying season tickets for MKL’s inaugural season in the Elite league. But I can’t commit to a Birmingham City football season ticket which is about £150 less in the area I like sitting compared to Lightning season tickets.

Anyway, getting back on point. This being my first season as a ‘supporter’ I have been surprised at the ‘all change’ mentality going on with the squad since winning the league Playoffs.

Is this a usual thing for Ice Hockey in the UK? or is it simply a bi-product of taking a step up in class going into the Elite league?  I was personally quite shocked at the concept of dumping all rostered players then negotiate new contracts for ones that were felt to be good enough for Elite Ice Hockey and leaving the remainder to try and find careers elsewhere.

In terms of signings made from the existing squad I am happy to see both Odrobny and Hook back in Lightning colours. Both were standout for me when I saw them last season. Odrobny’s heroics in goal for the cup final has surely secured his place as cult hero amongst the Lightning faithful, I know he is for me!  I really enjoy watching Hook, talented, pacey and highly competitive when on the ice he embodies everything exciting and exhilarating about hockey that draws spectators to the sport.

On the flip side, I was really disappointed to see club captain Carr depart Lightning after 16 years and over 600 games. Part of me feels he should have been given a spot on the roster as a thank you to his service and commitment to the club and a taste of Elite league hockey. Is there no place in hockey for sentimentality? Is Carr really not good enough for the Elite’s? I wouldn’t begin to question Peter Russell, he’s clearly a man that knows his hockey.  The recent success for Lightning and the performance of the Great Britain team over the summer is testament to his abilities. I just feel Carr deserved a seat for the upcoming season.

Coming from a football and rugby background I’ve never come across the notion of dropping all players and re-signing the ones you want.  For me, you have a squad and unless their contract is up or sold they will be there the following season and changes are more organic than sudden.  For me, I’m struggling to adapting to the notion of what is going on at MKL.

The girlfriend potentially has the opportunity to spend a few weeks or months in Atlanta Georgia with work and my immediate thought was to look up the sports teams in the city to see if the Islanders go that far south in the Eastern Conference. Upon looking up I discovered that one of Atlanta’s teams is now the Calgary Flames! The thought of relocating a team to, in this case, a completely new country seems unfathomable. It’s not a concept I’m used to with my more traditional British sports. Is this roster dropping an American thing?

It’s not going to stop me going to the MK Arena next season, and I am really looking forward to Lightning’s first season in the Elite league.  I guess I’m looking for answers from people who know more than me about the sport as to whether or not this is a regular occurrence in the sport. Either way I feel as though I cannot get too attached to any favourite players (too late with Shemy) in case they’re whipped away without warning!

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