The PHL season is coming to an end soon as the playoffs are in full swing, and already GKS Tychy eliminated KH Torun in the first round. This year showed a much stronger and competitive league, but nothing is perfect, and today I make five pitches for what the PHL should do in the 2020-21 season.
Include the Lithuanian Team
It was reported earlier this year by hokej.net that a team from Lithuania is in talks to join the PHL.
Now, as I said in my tweet, it does come under the condition that the team is strong enough, and this will not result in too high of travel cost for PHL teams. This would most likely result in PHL playing one game in Gdansk and then one in Vilnius on an away trip. This team would have to buy their way into the PHL, meaning more revenue, along with more exposure for the league and Polish hockey across Europe.
The Polish Player Rule for Teams Outside of Poland
The import rule has been a great success for Poland, as the league quality is much higher, and top players can test and improve their skills against much better competition. The team from Lithuania should also be allowed to carry as many imports as they desire, but with one catch. They have to carry at least three Polish players. Now this one might be tough to enforce as you also need three Polish players who are willing to play in Lithuania. I thought about having the rule set at five or seven players, but felt it would be hard to convince that many players to leave Poland.
This rule would be in place to help one provide a few Polish players with jobs. It would also benefit the Lithuanian team to have Polish players that, of course speak Polish, know the culture, and the cities. It would be a great aid for their teammates on some long road trips that would likely happen due to travel.
Polish Hockey Night on Twitch
Right now, there is a lot of debate about the future of broadcasting for Polska Hokej Liga games. There is even a petition that has gathered 1,912 signatures pleading for PHL games to be on TVP Sport. For the 2019-20 season, the games were streamed in a pay per view system on polskihokej.tv, with each game costing around 15 zl ($3.80) to stream, with each team receiving 4 zl ($1.04). It would cost around 400 zl ($100) for a fan to stream the entire season. While I do commend the PHL doing the best they could with this system, it is not going to grow the game or be financially beneficial in the long run. If the system is to return for next year, I would give one game away a week for free on Twitch.
For those that don’t know Twitch is a popular site that is mostly used for live streaming video games, especially E-sports. The site averages 1.38 million concurrent viewers. Despite video games live streams being their main course, they have been branching out in other areas. In the United States, politicians have streamed their rallies on it and Impact Wrestling stream their flagship show on the site. The hockey world has also already made its jump onto the site as well. The National Women’s Hockey Leauge broadcast all their games on Twitch, and the results have been pretty strong. They often average over 5,000 viewers per game.
E-sports are quite popular in Poland, and that is especially true with younger audiences, something the PHL needs to attract. Polish is also the language with the 12th highest average concurrent viewers (TwitchTacker.com). Twitch is quite the popular site in Poland, with 99% of E-sport community members saying they watch Esports on the site, and 27% of gamers saying they stream other non-Esports content.
Even if the league got a better deal for streaming or a tv deal for the following season, I would still recommend streaming one game a week on Twitch, on a set day of the week, to help promote the sport with people that might not otherwise watch it.
Broadcast PZHL U23 Games
Last season the only team not to have their games broadcast by the PZHL was PZHL u23. The team is filled with the next core of the Polish national team. One of the biggest things that young players need to survive in the modern hockey place is film to showcase their skills. PZHL u23 games would be an excellent chance for scouts and coaches to view the current crop of Polish players not currently playing a crucial part for another PHL team. It would also allow fans to see more of their favorite team’s games, where there is almost a guaranteed victory with lots of goals.
Stricter conditions for teams to enter the PHL
The PHL cannot have another Janow, Opole, or Polonia. These are embarrassing to the league and Polish hockey. The conditions to compete in the PHL need to be much stricter. There can be no more teams that claim they have the money but show no proof. If the Polish hockey league is ever to reach the next level in regards to being taken seriously, the conditions to enter the league must be stricter.