McEwan: Scottish trips are big pain
TEAM owner Bobby McEwan believes Hull Stingrays' harsh travelling schedule has undermined their chances of success this season.
Under the Elite League format introduced for 2012-13, Stingrays are in the Gardiner Conference, alongside Scottish sides Braehead, Dundee, Edinburgh and Fife.
They play that quartet eight times each – four home and four away – plus the five teams in the Erhardt Conference twice at home and twice away in a 52-game schedule.
"The travelling is killing us," said Glasgow-born McEwan, whose Rapid Solicitors Stingrays sit bottom of the overall standings and second-bottom in the Conference.
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"We've had a couple of Scottish double away headers, otherwise it would be 16 visits a season. For Conference games between two Scottish teams the longest journey is about 90 minutes from Braehead to Dundee.
"Dundee can play in Braehead on a Saturday and be home by 11.30 to midnight, so they are fully prepared and ready for the next day.
"We'll face off in Braehead this Saturday at 7pm, get back to Hull at 4 or 5am and the players have to be back at the rink for 4pm ready to face off at 6pm. It's taken its toll on the players this season."
To that end, McEwan says he is pondering changing some home matches from Saturday and Sunday to a Friday next season – if he can gain permission from the City Council who own Hull Arena.
"We might try and change the day of our home games, perhaps to a Friday, but I'll have to speak to the Council about that. That will give us a day's rest before travelling up to Scotland," he said.
The closeness of this year's competition means the league structure is set to remain unchanged next season.
Only one point separates all five teams in the Gardiner Conference as the season draws to a conclusion.
The quintet are separated by seven points in the overall standings when their results against the Erhardt Conference are added into the equation.
Travelling issues not withstanding, McEwan is happy with the status quo.
He explained: "I think there was general agreement that the format should remain unchanged for next season, because it shows how close the competition can be.
"That makes the structure of the league work better.
"We've proved we can consistently compete against any team in Hull, but I thought we should've won a few more up in Scotland."
The Challenge Cup groups and import levels are also expected to stay unchanged, while the league will again operate without a wage cap.
STINGRAYS are hosting a fans' forum at Hull Arena tonight (7.30pm) when they will unveil season ticket prices and the first two returnees for 2013-14.