Today the Steelers confirmed the signing of GB international Colin Shields for next season.
If ever the club and head coach Ryan Finnerty wanted to show their future intentions they couldn’t have made a more impressive, impact signing.
Shields is a potential 100 point man ... a British player who can score as freely as any import ... a man with experience of playing professionally in North America and Europe as well as averaging 1.35 points per game in the Elite League.
As a Play-Off champion he ticks all the right boxes. Shields will join a Brit pack already boasting GB internationals Ashley Tait, Jonathan Phillips, Mark Thomas and Jason Hewitt and I don’t think he will be the last Brit to sign up for next season’s Championship charge.
Last weekend the championship dream for this season suffered a crushing blow when Steelers were well beaten by a Belfast side with more talent, more speed and more goals. Finnerty is too smart to sit back and allow the same to happen again next season. He will learn, read and react. Inside he will know what he needs and in Shields he’s already started that process.
The one person Finnerty misses more than any of the last 10 seasons is Jody Lehman. I don’t mean as a goalie, I mean as a person.
Finnerty has to find a new Lehman, whether he’s a forward, a D man, a goalie or even an equipment manager, Lehman made people accountable.
Now you may think that is the job of a coach and you would be right but when a coach isn’t there, you need a different voice making your teammates aware of their responsibilities, to look them in they eye and say ‘Do Your Job.’ Find that bloke Finner!
This weekend the Steelers complete their league schedule with two home games against Edinburgh on Saturday (Ice Sheffield) and Braehead on Sunday (Arena).
The double-header will complete what will go down as a remarkable first season in charge for Finnerty. He took on a budget that the previous coach walked away from, led from the front as expected and delivered more than any thought was possible.
He said earlier this week that his team were feeling sorry for themselves after the league defeats in Belfast.
Well Finnerty has to get tough, his team has to man up, and this weekend they have to come out and not just beat Edinburgh but destroy them, then go and do a similar job on Braehead. That will give them the momentum they will need for the following week in the Play-Offs against the Clan.