Pipedream 2 :: Loaning our talents
In the second of the “Pipedream” series, Craig Tonks takes a look at a new scenario and another way to assist the further growth of the AIHL. These ideas are purely to make you stop and think, “What If”.
Many sporting clubs around the world have sister club agreements. This is most evident in the Football world however it is also evident amongst the world’s hockey rinks. The question could then be asked, can an AIHL club strike an agreement with a North American club? Could this sort of arrangement work in Ice Hockey?
The connections that the Melbourne Ice have made with the San Jose Sharks organisation have been well reported and they seem to be the AIHL club that leads the way in this area.
For this exercise however, I will bypass the NHL as they have agreements already in place with other lower tier professional teams. For this reason, I will look at the CHL which has 60 clubs across three high quality leagues.
The AIHL is positioned in a supremely unique environment. Given that the league runs primarily during the North American off season, it is foreseeable that a player who is injured and misses most of the North American season could possibly be placed with an AIHL team during the Australian season to build up fitness and gain valuable match practice.
To be beneficial, such an agreement has to compliment both sides. It is possible that an import currently playing in the AIHL could find his way to the CHL, thus creating a pathway to the higher level leagues.
This could then lead to talent identification for Australian players and promotion of the AIHL in areas of the world that may not have heard of the league.
The question is then, what benefit would it bring to the AIHL to have high level CHL players playing in Australia.
Firstly we would have to assume the IIHF and CHL would allow such a move and provide a loan agreement. The player would still be employed by their CHL club and they would pay the player as normal. Due to the Australian League being semi professional it would bear no more financial burden than they currently carry with their imports.
One would think that bringing in a high skill level would raise the profile of the AIHL and bring with it training systems and the latest methodology. Running development camps for the clubs would benefit the junior system and can be seen as a long term benefit and investment.
We would hope that such deals could materialise in the future.
It is another idea of pure fantasy but shouldn’t we dream big and aim high?
By Craig Tonks