TALKING STEELERS WITH DAVE SIMMS: Young players must show more drive

17/3/12: Tom Squires of the Sheffield Steelers in action against George Awada of the Belfast Giants during the Elite League game in Belfast. Picture: Michael Cooper
17/3/12: Tom Squires of the Sheffield Steelers in action against George Awada of the Belfast Giants during the Elite League game in Belfast. Picture: Michael Cooper

Tom Squires is a 21-year-old Sheffield lad and he lived and breathed being a Steeler; he loved it.

As a youngster he watched the team play and dreamed to become one. He realised his dream a year or two ago yet earlier this week he took the decision to leave the club and move to the Sheffield Steeledogs. Strange? Well I think so.

Squires is the latest of a string of Sheffield lads with promise who almost made the ranks of the full time. It started with Dean Smith some 15 years ago; Stevie Duncombe came and went, Ben Morgan came up for a cup of coffee and last season Lee Haywood had his chances.

In the past I have spoken about this subject and mentioned the words drive and ambition. I have then been criticised for having a go at the local kids but the more people like young Squires make these decisions the more convinced I’m right.

Why do players like Duncombe and Squires take the easy option to play with the Steeldogs (Scimitars)? Is it because it’s so easy as they are on the doorstep ... is it that they can play with all their mates that they grew up with ... is it that it’s just a bit easier that you don’t have to fully commit your whole life to hockey? You decide.

The deal with Squires took a month for the Steelers to arrange. Coach Ryan Finnerty wanted him to leave Sheffield, move out of the area, like he did when he was 15 and like Hewitt, Thomas and Phillips did. The deal was for ice time during the week at both clubs though Tom would live in Telford. he would play every weekend for the Telford Tigers and then play with us in mid-week games and Steelers play more of those than anyone. The Steelers would have become the first Elite League side to pay a player to go on a two- way deal. Finnerty and owner Tony Smith then put the deal to Tom. From my own dealings with him I think he couldn’t understand why Telford and not the Steeldogs. Why did he have to move to Telford? I know a lot of fans have asked the same question on forums and the like. The Steelers felt that moving home would aid his progression and development as a person as well as a player. I fully agree.

Anyone who knows Tom loves the kid, just like they do Duncombe. I do though have to ask how badly did they really want it? Why weren’t they as driven as a Dowd, a Farmer, a Hewitt and a Thomas.

The Steelers realised that Squires would have been a 10th or 11th guy this coming season. They knew that wouldn’t help the lad and his development. They wanted to keep Tom in their system and in my opinion came up with a deal to do just that. The Steelers would have funded over half the cost of the deal, the only club to do such a thing. The Telford option would, in my opinion, have been the best one; unfortunately I think the decision made was the easy one and also the wrong one.

Is it a lack of ambition or a lack of drive? Am I being unreasonable suggesting such a thing, I don’t think so. Once or twice maybe but Squires is the latest of a string of Sheffield lads to take the easy option. Whoever is advising Tom and dare I say pulling his strings just pulled them in the wrong direction for me.

I care about his progression and that of all the youngsterss coming up through the ranks at iceSheffield. I want to see those 12, 14 and 16-year-olds pulling a Steelers shirt on but each and every one of them has to realise that to go on and become a senior member of the squad takes more than being able to skate, pass, shoot and hit. It takes dedication, drive and commitment 52 weeks of the year.

I wish you well Tom, I hope for your sake I was wrong and you are right. But I think we both know that isn’t the case.