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Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Cornish Conundrum: - Part 2

Before passing judgement on the value of Jeremy the hockey player, I feel it is important to understand two key points in the setup of the EIHL. They are import levels and wage cap.

Teams are limited to ten import players, the rest of the team must be made up of players who played the game at a junior level in the UK. As a general rule teams will use up all ten import slots due to the relatively small talent pool of quality British trained players. However, there are a handful of Brits who can more than hold there own with the top imports in the league. Typically teams rely of the imports to be their key players with the Brits taking lesser roles usually on the third line, as a 5th defenceman or back-up goalie. However, if you have a top Brit on your team, you have the luxury of having one of your key player slots taken without the use of one of your ten import slots. So you can have a top notch import on your third line rather than an average Brit.

But wait, remember I said there were two key points to look at. Remember teams have a wage cap, a maximum amount of money they can pay out in players wages. Now if you were a Tait or Longstaff would you be willing to play for the same money as an average third line Brit or would you want similar money to the key imports in the league? So if the top Brits are paid like imports (only fair) that means you can either play an import down or get a lower budget import for the third line. Taking the second option is likely to mean you get someone who won't be lighting up the red light every night or making dazzling end to end rushes or Gretzky like passes. Your far more likely to a role player. Does the basics well and fills a role within the team. A player such as Jeremy Cornish.

So, for a team like Sheffield where they have two quality British forwards in Ashley Tait and Jonathon Phillips the option of a third line, role playing import is a reality. For those that say it is a waste of an import slot, I ask you this. Assuming the money is available for a higher quality import (unlikely but lets pretend it is), would a higher quality import be happy playing a role on the third line when they have the talent for the first or second line? I believe this was one issue Steelers coach Dave Matsos had in filling that slot, players didn't want to play on the third line, except Cornish.

Remove one of the top Brits from the line up, then yes I would agree it would be a waste of an import slot as it would mean using an average Brit on the top two lines with the expectation of scoring more points than they are likely to. You have to remember ice hockey is a team sport and its the best team that wins championships, not necessarily the best players. So despite not being the best hockey player, if Cornish can play a role that makes the team a better team, then surely he is worth his import slot. For those of you still not convinced, take this hypothetical scenario. If Tait were an import and Cornish a Brit, would Cornish be worthy of a place on the team? After all, if the team is playing well, as long as teams stick to the import limits, does it really matter where the individual players are from.

So, we've established that despite his limited hockey skill, on the right team Cornish can fill the role of enforcer. And while I'm sure there will always be plenty of disagreement of how good and enforcer/fighter he is, he certainly adds to the entertainment value both on the ice and in the discussion that takes place off it.

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