The following piece was sent to us prior to the creation of the site, and prompted the idea of starting Puck It. The writer has asked to remain anonymous, and we respect their wish.
Hull Pirates sent shockwaves through the English Premier Ice Hockey League last week, with the dismissal of yet another promising young netminder. A netminder so promising that he was called up to cover Elite League injuries. A netminder with a .91 save percentage, adored by the fans, very much liked by his teammates.
A netminder so good that he was sacked for losing a game whilst sat on the bench.
Before I continue, let’s be absolutely clear that I lay absolutely no blame at Ash Smith’s door for the 7-2 hammering. Hull’s backup netminder was dragged straight up from junior hockey to the second-tier, having only been actually playing for 2/3 years previously.
I put that blame firmly at the feet of those who clearly think sending a kid, who clearly has potential but is clearly not ready to play at this level yet, to the wolves. I can’t blame a young lad who’s spent the last two years having his on-ice confidence sledgehammered away. It’s not his fault, he should have been looked after better. He may never be the player he could have been as a result.
Hull’s form has slid since releasing Slovakian utility-guy Jaroslav Sarsok, another popular figure with the fans and a huge physical presence, with the skating agility and stick-handling of a man six inches shorter. Neither Marr, nor Smith are responsible for that skid. If Dominic Osman wants to find the problem, he needs to look much closer to home.
As a player, Osman is not a first-liner on this Hull team. He started as a defenceman, everything was going swimmingly. Yet, he suddenly became the one, for a time placing himself on the strongest line because that was a good idea. Lines have changed unnecessarily and there are prospects on the team who are dressed and getting no ice time whatsoever. Depth has been an advantage for Hull, it hasn’t been used. But Osman can double-shift. It pads the stats, after all.
In terms of player changes, Ondrej has failed to do the job he was brought in to do. Maynard has been a warrior from day 1. The mystery of where Jordan Fisher is goes on. The gassing of Gareth O’Flaherty still mystifies to this very day, yet Andy Hirst has been a welcome grafter to the forward lines.
Yet, you start canning players in a team where the majority of the results come from incredible team chemistry, camaraderie and teammates fighting for one another, you lose what made your team special. There will be yet more changes, having seven imports (with the acquisition of an import netminder) in a five import league isn’t good maths. Someone is going home, and that will only upset the team chemistry further.
At time of writing, the only information fans have had of the latest player change is through Marr himself and the local newspaper, with no press on the clubs website. It is apparently ‘not a gamble’ to release your popular star netminder for an ‘experienced’ import.
I mean, it happened last year, too. Said goalie then went on a 200 minute-plus shutout streak and won a league title. Jon Baston wasn’t the problem last year. Regardless, most of the fanbase is a mixture of devastated and furious. The sacking of Jordan Marr was a disgrace. unnecessary and proves Hull Pirates (and more widely, UK hockey in general) contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.
To put salt on the wound, he’s been sacked for a 37 year old import. In a development league, nonetheless. This raises issues all on its own, but regardless, I thought we were better than that. Apparently not.
Reportedly, Marr’s initial reaction was similar to the fans, despite the impeccably professional handling of the situation. He should be so very proud of the way he’s carried himself in both the last 6 months, and particularly the last 10 days. As should his teammates be proud of themselves.
We’ll probably never know the truth to the circumstance, but there are clearly fractures within the organisation that have unapologetically surfaced and they’re not going away. Fans in open mutiny, alongside murmurs of current players preparing to follow Marr out the door.
If those at the top can’t set aside their own egotism for the sake of the cause, then it’s probably time to consider whether they’re the ones to lead us to glory.