Steelers’ coach Paul Thompson has admitted that Cardiff Devils won the Elite League and Challenge Cup last season because they consistently identified and penetrated the weak links in Sheffield’s armoury.
And although the Play-off-winning boss drew clear of criticising systems or individuals, or specifying the vulnerabilities, he did hint at what areas he was now addressing to overcome Devils’ superiority, as the new 2017-18 season draws ever closer.
Thompson also criticised the sport’s administrators over the Play-off structure, saying they did not comprehend how the series could be improved.
“We won the Play-0ffs. To win the league is a war, a battle,” he said.
“Cardiff won it in the series with us,” continued Thompson, who runs the team along with assistant coach Jerry Andersson.
“They had a couple of breaks along the way but were deserved champions.”
He confessed there were “areas where we were exposed, and we were aware of that, and Cardiff took advantage of that”.
Thompson didn’t give any secrets away about his team rebuild but to “chase the edge” he said there needed to be “adjustments in our group ... we’ll be a little bit bigger around the net and the opposition net”.
The coach said the summer months were illuminated by the Play-0ff win they enjoyed.
But he added: “I think a lot of people who are involved in decision-making in this sport don’t really understand the Play-off side of things ... or don’t want to.”
He said that while the final-four series held at Nottingham was “an unbelievable event” which made financial sense, he would like to see teams undergoing a “best of five” series rather than the present quarter-final phase.
“I have been involved in it in Europe and can see what it means - but that’s not my decision,” he said.
Thompson also revealed how he discarded resistance to signing Guillaume Desbiens, two seasons ago.
He recalled how Shaun Smith, part of the ownership and management team, had relayed concern than Desbiens had not scored a lot of points in European Erste Bank Eishockey Liga.
“This (Elite) league isn’t just about guys who get 50-60 points a year,” Thompson said on a club video. “The guys who bring 20 points a year bring so much more in different areas. It’s what you bring as a whole.”
Desbiens retired this Summer.
Thompson said the pressure of playing for Steelers would not faze some of the new recruits.