Sheffield Steelers: Swedes could be on the menu again for Thompson

Christoffer Bjorklund, one Swedish player to have previously turned out for the Steelers
Christoffer Bjorklund, one Swedish player to have previously turned out for the Steelers

Steelers head coach Paul Thompson has confirmed that the club will have a Swedish contingent once again next season – but wouldn’t say if any of last year’s Scandanavian crop would be returning.

“I hear people talk of the Steelers Swedish experiment,” said Thompson. “Experiment? It’s been no experiment. It’s been a terrific success.

“We haven’t had one bad experience with a player from there.

“I like their attitude. I like their discipline.

“Maybe we went with more Swedes than out rivals because I coached their in Troja. I saw what excellent players and pros they are.

“Year one we had Freddie Vestberg and he was joined by Conny Stromberg. Freddie was our players’ player of the year, the coach’s player of the year and the fans’ player of the year. Conny coming to the team late was the boost that took us to a championship.

“Last season we had Andreas Valdix who, points-per-game, was there with the top players in the league.

“Markus Nilsson excited fans every night and played on all four of our lines during the season.

“Then we had Christoffer Bjorklund (pictured) who impressed that much he was taken back to Sweden to win promotion back to the SHL.

“That’s not an experiment – that’s attracting quality players and excellent people.

“A little like Conny’s late arrival the year before, I thought that when Jarred Hagos joined us mid way through the year he brought us steel and the ultimate in professionalism. His performances in the run-in were sublime. He was another very good hockey player.”

Thompson says he doesn’t care where his players come from, just as long as they buy into the Steelers way.

“I couldn’t care less if they are Canadian, Swedes, Latvians, Americans or Finns,” he said. “They have to mix with each other, but into our British ways and be Steelers.

“I think we will have a Swedish input next year, could be one and it could be half a dozen.

“I’m just looking for good players to fill the roles that I still have available.

“I’m still talking with our Swedish players from last season and others as well. I’m speaking with North Americans too.

“We will sign whoever is the best fit for the Steelers team.

“It’s simple really. Their passport doesn’t come into it.”