The top level of hockey in Poland needs to change. As it stands now the league is not helping Polish hockey as much as it could. The league has teams that are clearly ahead of others, the import rules are harmful, and it is not a good place for young Polish players to develop. Today I present how I would change the league.
GKS Tychy Leaves
Right now both GKS Tychy and GKS Katowice are reportedly in talks to join the top hockey league in Slovakia, the Tipsports Liga. This upcoming season the league will feature two teams from Hungary and I would love for both Tychy and Katowice to go, but I’ll stay on the safe side and say only GKS Tychy leaves for Slovakia. GKS Tychy lost a single game in regulation last year, they’re too good for the PHL and could be a strong team in Slovakia.
The 6 Team PHL
Less is more in this case. We now cut the PHL down to 6 teams, GKS Katowice, Cracovia Krakow, Podhale Nowy Targ, JKH GKS Jastrzebie, Unia Oswiecim, and Zaglebie Sosnowiec. This league is now where the best of best Polish players play, there are no import rules, top 4 teams make the playoffs, and there is also no relegation. Too many teams in the PHL cannot keep up with the top teams and the games become meaningless and lopsided affairs. This also allows stronger clubs to get stronger and bring in better talent to Poland that otherwise would be denied by import rules or did not consider, due to the quality of the league. I would also consider expanding this league to 8 if Poland could possibly find some foreign clubs that would like to join.
The Strong 2nd League
Poland’s 2nd hockey league is very weak right now and they just lost Zaglebie Sosnowiec. One team even has their u20 squad competing in it. We get rid of that to make this a much stronger and bigger league. This league will have import rules and be about Polish players. The league features 8 teams; KS Torun, MH Automatyka Gdansk, Orlik Opole, Polonia Bytom, Naprzod Janow, KTH Krynica, Hokej Poznan, and SMS Katowice u20. Teams will be under less financial pressure in this league and will play in a more competitive league. SMS Katowice u18 will hopefully move into a foreign junior league like what has been discussed. While there has been a discussion about making SMS Katowice a u23 team to make them more competitive in the PHL, I would rather drop them down a league and keep the u20 status. Players who are older than 20, but not able to make it in the PHL yet can be loaned to a team in this league.
A very basic outline of my idea to make Polish hockey leagues strong and grow the sport. Yes, I can see how having 6 teams is a problem, it could be a massive failure. It addresses most of my major problems though. It especially addresses my current biggest problem with the PHL, the import rule. The idea of protecting Polish players via no import rules isn’t working. Look at the EIHL in Great Britain, that league is dominated by imports and this had lead to nothing, but the growth of hockey in Great Britain. The league has passed the PHL and is pushing past a few others. British players in the league have secured KHL, AHL, and more contracts. Liam Kirk even got drafted from the league. The league promotes the performances of its British stars and the top percentage of British players meanwhile the rest are in the NIHL. This has also allowed them to attract better quality imports for their national team. Something Poland has been trying to do for years with a lot of imports, but only a few can be called successful. More countries are passing Poland, and all of these countries have made major changes to their leagues and are putting their top teams in better leagues. Poland needs to make changes soon.