THE Elite Ice Hockey League may have called a halt to the new season in September, but they are looking at changing things as all 10 teams look to plan for the 2021/22 season, though it is still 10 months away.

Glasgow Clan’s chief operating officer Gareth Chalmers is in regular discussions with the rest of the teams as they look to bring top-level ice hockey back next year and  some alterations are being considered as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt.

“Looking at the economic changes around us and how the virus continues to affect society, everyone in the Elite League is starting to realise the competition will come back in a different set-up,” Chalmers said. “That’s not to say the actual league, Challenge Cup or play-offs will change, but more to do with budgets, import levels and we’re spending the time to decide what’s best for the Elite League and the sport moving forward.

“It’s going to be a tough couple of years so we have to adjust to what’s going on around us and be more careful when it comes to planning for the future. I expect there will be a vastly reduced expenditure, not only as a result of the pandemic, but the post-Brexit fallout and we’re already seeing the cost of visas increase as well as NHS surcharges.

“It may mean a return to the Conference system and as a club, we would fully support it. Playing the teams geographically near us a little more helped spark the rivalries there are and that would be a good thing.

“It was one of the best decisions we made as a league and I understand why they had to scrap it, but it would be good to bring it back. It reduces travel costs and the rivalries help the attendances. Our attendances against the other Scottish teams were always better because of that.”

Chalmers has a busy 2021 ahead, with so much to be done to get Glasgow Clan ready for action after the league called a halt to the last campaign in March, a month away from the scheduled end of the season.

There is the issue of replacing Zack Fitzgerald as head coach, who left in April as well as the question of how the change of ownership of Braehead Shopping Centre and Arena, where they play, to Global Mutual affects them.

“The search for a new coach has never really stopped and it’s something I’ll really get into January, “ Chalmers said. “The plan is to have someone in place by March or April so there’s plenty of time to look at recruiting a team for a possible August/September start.

“Nothing ever changes in hockey and I’ve already had players reach out to us, looking to come on board next year, but there’s still a lot going on in the club. We can also plan a little better and as I’ve said in the past, we’re analysing what we’re doing and how to improve in certain areas.

“The news of the takeover by Global Mutual is a very good one so it’s fantastic for everyone who works in the centre. We see it as a major positive, but there are still issues to be resolved from our point of view.

“We’re confident about our future and returning home next September. It’s an exciting time for everyone and we can make some major plans for the future, which is great news for the arena and the shopping centre.”