Rod Sarich, 33, is preparing to re-join Sheffield Steelers, after being cut from their roster this time last year.
Here, the British-Canadian defenceman answers some questions about how he feels about returning to the club he served with distinction for eight seasons.
How disappointed were you when former coach Doug Christiansen ditched you?
It is never easy thinking that your career had been ended. I never said I was ready to retire and I’d hoped I’d have the chance to come back. I didn’t think I was finished. Doug rang me saying he was making other plans. I said ‘fair enough’ but I still thought I could do a job. I was surprised because I’d played for Doug for GB and while I didn’t have a great tournament for them I thought I’d be OK.
I considered playing elsewhere but with other things going on in my life, I didn’t want to be going up and down the motorway for training and games. After eight years it was tough. Now I want to finish my career on my own terms. I’d love at least a couple of more seasons!
Did the call from Gerad Adams come out of the blue?
I was training anyway, last winter, and when I heard Doug had left I started doing a few extra things (cycling, weights etc) in case there was a chance I could go back then. It didn’t happen. But after the season ended, Gerad phoned me, there had been a middle-man, and Gerad had an idea I wanted to come back so I was glad I could slot back in. It doesn’t feel real yet. I am excited because I have been in the wilderness.
What are the effect of having a year out of sport?
It’s a bit of an unknown. At the end of my last playing season I’d taken a few knocks and with my shoulder and kidneys I’d probably have benefitted from six months allowing things to settle down, anyway. I don’t think I have lost too much. It is just like I have had an extra long close-season.
I have not been on ice since I ‘retired’ it is not easy in the UK! I didn’t want to go on the ice at 10 or 11pm at night, as they do here, because I have a job and am trying to wrap up my University degree. (Business Management.)
I am going to ease into things (exercise) before training camp so it’s not such a shock to my body. I have kept in shape. While I might be stiff a week longer than normal, I’ll be OK.
Will you be an offensive defenceman?
I’d like to think so, but I’m not 25, so maybe not as much as I was before. I am not sure what Mr Adams has in mind, maybe he will slot me in as a fifth or sixth d-man who is steady at the back. I am confident in my own ability, I am still the same person, and will do as much as I can, whatever the role. If I can do as well as Ron Shudra did when he came back, I will be happy!
How many Steelers games did you see last season?
One, the company I work for (he’s Marketing Manager at KTR Couplings Ltd) has a box and we took some customers so I thought I’d better show my face! It is frustrating when you’re injured so it is even worse when you are fit and healthy and watching a team you’d been hoping to play with.
Is there a player you are specifically looking forward to playing with?
Mark Thomas, he’s one of my mates. It will be great to see all the Brits again.
I’ve met Dustin Kohn and I am excited to play with him, too.