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Neil Chiplen:

Game of Shadows

Skysports.com's Neil Chiplen looks at the fallout from Edinburgh's historic win

Neil Chiplen Posted 11th October 2011 view comments

Congratulations to the Edinburgh Capitals for winning their first game since Mike Ware was pulling bodyguard duty for Tony Hand.

It sure does feel like that long ago. 39 games and we're no longer counting.

The misery was thankfully ended on Sunday night as the Capitals picked up a W to snap a losing streak that seemed to last forever. Now that it's over, the Capitals and the league have to learn from it. It can't happen again.

The early signs from Edinburgh have been encouraging. A realistic and manageable roster has been installed and Nathan Craze has rightfully been given the next chance at following in the footsteps of Stevie Lyle and Stephen Murphy. A close defeat to Braehead and a draw against Dundee pre-empted the ultimate victory as this year's Caps threatened to turn the corner.

While there's been a Craze on the ice, nothing's changed with the craziness off it. Managerial shake ups, false promises, and tangled webs of he said/she said doing nothing more but to confuse fans. Hopefully, the Caps can use Sunday's result as a turning point to remove the shackles and finally set out on the right path, one which doesn't twist and turn.

Competitive

The Edinburgh-based teams have been a proud shining light in the history of British ice hockey and to see the current franchise suffer like this has been sad. It's time to move forward, but it's a concern that instead of seeing a losing streak smashed to pieces perhaps all we've seen is a passing of the torch.

The Capitals beat a team ruined by injury, without a starting import netminder, with skating imports that would barely get a gig on any other team in the league, a club in little danger of being competitive and an organisation that admits to being only interested in survival. Sound familiar?

The box score, the game summary and news websites are all reporting an 8-3 win by the Capitals against the Fife Flyers. They didn't beat Fife. The Capitals beat themselves. They shadowboxed and scored a knockout.

2011/12 Edinburgh Capitals 8 2010/11 Edinburgh Capitals 3. Right now, this year's Flyers are last year's Capitals.

Forget Saturday's 8-3 loss in Nottingham. The Caps had only one game this weekend. It was a game that they had to win and they did so in style, giving Fife a taste of the medicine that they'd had to swallow themselves for years.

Last year the score lines had spiralled way out of control, the Caps were getting hammered nightly and everybody involved, from the young players courageous enough to go into the fold again to the loyal season ticket holders were not getting a fair deal. The Caps finished the season. Although any sense of competitiveness had vanished months before the final horn.

In a league filled with teams playing according to a ghost salary cap and stacking their roster with NHL calibre players, the Caps were being forced out. Their fans deserved a team that could at least be competitive.

And thanks to Fife, they've got one.

Fife's arrival in the summer was better news for Edinburgh than it was for the Flyers themselves. Without Fife and with the Newcastle Vipers giving up the ghost, the Caps would have been adrift at the bottom of the league, challenging improved rosters in Dundee and Hull and big budget Braehead. The streak wouldn't have stopped this side of 40.

Now the Caps are able to resume a rivalry and score some points at the same time. Other victories will come. If the Caps can hold together the roster they have right now then Hull and Dundee will fall at some point and they will always have the chance of catching one of the big boys cold. There will also be some harsh lessons on the horizon. The 8-1, 8-0 beat downs of early September aren't soon forgotten. And take a look ahead to the Caps' pre-Christmas schedule; it's plain ugly.

Rude awakening

A shout out must go to Fife netminder Blair Daly, who stepped into the breach to face a Kevin Reiter-esque workload, not just on Sunday but also in Saturday's home game against the road weary Devils. Two young British goalies going head-to-head in a local rivalry. Sounds good. Next time we just need to even up the shot count.

The result must serve as a rude awakening to the Flyers management. Their plans of slowly but surely settling into the Elite League have now been torn apart by the team they were supposed to be on an even footing with. Put import netminder Garrett Zemlak in the crease and the final scoreline might have changed but the shot count wouldn't. The Flyers need to fill up those import slots and perhaps look at the seats that are already taken on the bench. The novelty never takes long to wear off.

The Flyers and Caps play each other twice in the next two weeks. Now that Edinburgh have experienced the cathartic release of a long overdue win, hopefully the upcoming meetings will be more competitive.

The day that never looked like coming is a special one for the diehard fans in Edinburgh, who have stuck with the club through thick and thin to experience the sweet taste of victory. And for the likes of Bari McKenzie, who went through it all last season, to be able to finally crack open a beer with his team-mates and celebrate.

But now that the grim realities of the morning after the night before have set in, there is still a hefty amount of work to be done in Edinburgh to keep the Caps viable. The shine of an 8-3 win wears off quickly when you look at the league table.

Follow Neil on Twitter @neilchiplen

Comments (1)

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Mike Phillips says...

dear mr chilpen perhaps you should be looking at the other end of the table for the reason why there is such differing standards across the league. If certain owners, sponsors and fans were not trying to buy silverware, but looked to the development of the sport/league and agreed a measured way forward ,so that all clubs could buy into an opportunity to win each night then people like you could concentrate on promoting our great sport rather than Slagging off lower budget teams, who do not have the ability to simply splash the cash if a few poor results come along. These teams have to nurture whatever limited talent they can find, until the Bigger budget sides entice those players away, A couple of years back Sheffield had a disasterous season by their fans expectations, could this have been because they were trying to play within a budget? only Sheffield management can answer that question. Perhaps next season as an experiment The top team would give The money that they spent this season to the bottom team and the first team could survive on what the bottom team spent this year, and so on for 2nd and ninth , third and eighth etc, This time next year you certainly would not be writing about Edinburgh and Fife but on the impending doom of Belfast and Nottingham. Every fan enjoys success, but how it is measured is what determines whether that fan will return next week. Seeing a sporting event between two evenly matched teams, is a lot more enjoyable than watching a one sided non event, but until the league/ team owners agree a way forward for the betterment of all concerned, the same few will enjoy success and belittle the attempts of other teams to rise to that level. PS enjoy your four team league when you get it. with that twenty twenty cup thing you can all win a cup each!!

Posted 19:44 12th October 2011

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