Sheffield Steelers’ ‘Devil of a job’ to sign stars

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Sheffield Steelers say the club’s close-season long courtship of players with Cardiff Devils backgrounds is “natural” - and merely a case of history repeating itself.

The Play Off champions - coached by Gerad Adams, who was at Cardiff for eight seasons - have targeted several skaters with a Welsh connection.

Gerad Adams embraces Welshman Phil Hill after the Play Off win.

Gerad Adams embraces Welshman Phil Hill after the Play Off win.

They have signed Jay Latulippe, who had two years under Adams, and have tried in vain to recruit Tyson Marsh, Mac Faulkner, Stuart MacRae and Tylor Michel.

The club’s long-standing servant David Simms confirmed that Adams has spent time trying to fill some of his import slots with former club-mates.

“We have had a long history with Welsh guys” Simms said on video at thestar.co.uk

“Yes Gerad is speaking to a lot of players who played in Cardiff. He had a relationship with Cardiff, which is only natural. That’s what Mike Blaisdell did when he came here in 2000 (from Nottingham.) The fist person he went for was Brent Bobyck, the second was Rick Brebant. His men - people he was comfortable with.

“In exactly the same way Doug Christiansen approached six or seven Belfast Giants players before Chad Langlais agreed to join. We went after (Adam) Keefe we went after (Kevin) Saurette.

“I guess the Welsh revolution started when Dave Whistle came, (2006) he went after Jonathan Phillips and Phil Hill and got them. “I think Gerad felt comfortable with Latulippe, felt comfortable going after Tyson Marsh.”

Simms said the focus had now shifted to imports that will be new to the country - which means the side will not only be completely transformed, but fans may have to accept a bedding-in period.

“To sign 11 or 12 import players you do cast the net to (as many as) 150 different players. Some take the bait, some don’t, maybe it’s a bit slower this year than others.”

He said there was a European pecking order: Germany would have first choice, followed by Denmark, and then the rest.

“For the first match of the season we will have a very good squad” promised Simms. “Gerad is in control and we are happy with what Gerad is doing.”