But Sheffield Steelers Owner Tony Smith believes fans will witness a post-pandemic rebirth for their club in an unforgettable 2021-22 season.
This week the Steelers announced the signing of former NHLer Justin Hodgman, who will be at the higher end of the club’s pay scale.
That’s some commitment given that the club has lost around £250,000 in revenue since putting the full domestic program on ice in March 2020.
The Steelers participated in a mini-series in April/May, but that was a financially neutral outcome, as the tournament itself swallowed money earned from live broadcasts and government assistance.
Within the ice hockey community, there is increasing speculation about how EIHL clubs will exercise diligence and caution when it comes to spending next season.
IIH rules state that teams can have up to 22 players on a roster.
But this seems like a stretch considering the finances in the post-Covid period.
There is also the question that even if there is no social distancing between fans, will all fans want to return?
According to some sources, the EIHL team’s rosters will include 14 imports and five Britons next season.
In the 2019-20 season, clubs listed the same amount, as well as three Britons under 23.
Smith declined to go into any details about the exact plans, presumably still under discussion at the EIHL board level.
But the EIHL chairman and Sheffield businessman insisted: “Next season will be a great spectacle and will definitely be value for money – that’s 100 percent.
“I think in many ways this will be the best season for us, as a club, when it all comes together.
“We’ve worked really hard for the last 10 years (as ownership) and we believe fans will come back from lockdown and keep buying what we’re trying to achieve.
“I think it’s going to be our best year given what we’ve all been in, after such a tough lockdown,” Smith said.
“To shut down a company like Sheffield Steelers for a year – that was unprecedented. Now we are preparing to come back and we think we will have fun for the fans.”