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Belfast Giants star auctions jersey to help players' relief fund



Bidding war: Smotherman’s shirt

Bidding war: Smotherman’s shirt

Jordan Smotherman

Jordan Smotherman

William Cherry/Presseye

Bidding war: Smotherman’s shirt

Around the ice hockey world, players have been hit in their pockets by the coronavirus, with seasons cancelled and players left scrambling to get home.

The Belfast Giants, and the other nine Elite League teams, saw their season cancelled on March 13, which led to a mass exodus from the SSE Arena as the side's North American stars raced to get back across the Atlantic before any further travel restrictions were introduced, foregoing their wages for the remaining five weeks of the season in the process.

That was the case across Europe, too, as players plying their trade in foreign countries saw their seasons ended prematurely and were left to make a mad dash back home to their families, with most leagues being considered a washout.

It's led to many players being impacted financially as they deal with losing a significant portion of their pay, however it was a necessary move for most clubs, who couldn't afford to keep paying players while missing out on the revenue from cancelled home games.

But, despite not having to travel long distances to get home, players Stateside have not been exempt from financial hardship because of Covid-19.

Players in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) are having to cope with a loss of income after their campaign was cancelled, while the American Hockey League (AHL) is suspended until May but seems likely to end up going the same way.

One of the Giants' players is trying to help the situation out, however. Winger Jordan Smotherman is auctioning off one of his jerseys from the season gone by to try and contribute to a relief fund set up for players who have been hit.

Smotherman played two seasons with the Manchester Monarchs in the ECHL before joining the Giants and is now hoping to help out some of his old friends in the league.

"I have my jerseys from this year and I saw how much other jerseys are going for at auction. As a former member of the East Coast league, and having played in a league which shut down early and we lost out on money and housing, it was important to me to try and give back to those guys," says the 33-year-old.

"It wasn't as bad for us, we only lost about a month's wages, but those guys lost six to 12 weeks of pay and housing. Some of those guys are only on $500-a-week, so to suddenly be told you don't have those things is a bit of a shock.

"I have my away jersey that I took home with me up on eBay now. I think it's up to $375 last time I checked, which is awesome. I have a few friends that still play in that league so anything that can give it a bit of a push is my plan.

"The Professional Hockey Players' Association have set up an ECHL player relief fund. I believe they themselves put forward $200,000, and the last time I checked it was up to $240,000.

"So 100 per cent of the proceeds will be given to that fund."

To bid on Smotherman's jersey, fans can access the eBay auction - which ends at 9.20pm tomorrow - through his Twitter profile @jsmoothie10.

Belfast Telegraph