Dutiaume hits out at EIHL import increase

Todd Dutiaume has been left frustrated by the Elite League rule changes. Pic: Steve Gunn
Todd Dutiaume has been left frustrated by the Elite League rule changes. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume has hit out at the Elite League’s decision to increase import numbers.

Starting next season the number of non-British trained players will rise from 11 to 12, and continue to rise by one in each of the following two seasons until the number reaches 14 in season 2016-17, although the number of work-permit players will remain at 11.

EIHL chairman Tony Smith explained that the decision was made to improve the standard of the league, and described the move as “beneficial to all” - however Dutiaume disagrees.

“I don’t think it’s a great idea,” he said.

“We’ve always stated that while we want to do well in this league and challenge for silverware, it’s important that we develop British talent.

“This move hinders that while potentially crippling a lot of teams financially.

“I don’t think you’ll see many young Brits developed in this league, instead they will be squeezed out of the game.

“It’s strange how this has come about after one of the closest run Elite League campaigns in history.

“There were only 12 points between second place and ninth - to anyone on the outside looking in that’s a very successful and competitive league.

“This doesn’t look like it’s been done for the benefit of the league, but for teams to be able to buy silverware, which is very frustrating.

“They’ve upped the bar again so we’re going to have to find ways to overcome it.”

While wishing to remain competitive in the EIHL, Dutiaume does not expect to flood the Fife side with extra imports once the quota increases.

“We’ll stick with our game plan,” he said.

“We’ve made great progress over the last few years while sticking within our budget, and we’ll continue to do that.

“We want to develop local guys for the Elite League and it’s up to me as coach to use these guys and find ways to win.

“We’ve shown that you can take guys who have never played pro hockey before and develop them in this league.

“Our Brits have done well, but they’re going to have to up their game.”

Dutiaume questioned whether the increase in import numbers will make the league unsustainable, particularly for Gardiner Conference clubs.

“They are going back to the days of the old Superleague when teams were going bust left, right and centre,” he said.

“It puts an incredible financial strain on gate-based clubs.”