Dave Simms column: Be proud of Sheffield's champions
It will be a bitter-sweet weekend for the Steeler fans travelling to Nottingham for a Play Off finals which excludes their own club.
It’s always tough when you are the brightest, loudest and best fans and your team isn’t in the final four.
I hope our fans don’t put their tickets on eBay following the quarter final defeat to Coventry last weekend. I hope they wear their orange Steelers shirts with the same pride the team did this past eight months. I hope they remember that the Steelers won the “Big One” - the League Championship. The trophy played for over seven months and for 52 games.
Not a knockout cup or a four game play off series - both great to win, don’t get me wrong - but both nowhere near as important as a league title.
Through highs and lows, through three games in three weekends, that six in eight period when we were out on our feet yet still won six of those games - that’s what the 2015-16 season was all about.
Zack Fitzgerald playing with not one but two fractured hands. Guillaume Desbiens coming back two weeks early from his own fractured hand. Rob Dowd, once coming back early from a broken hand and once from knee damage. Why? Because we needed them to.
Jason Hewitt losing 20lbs in body weight, ill, dead on his feet and yet not missing a game. Colton Fretter, told his year was over but refusing to give up and doubling his off-ice work outs to ensure that when Fitzy finally broke down, he was there to take over.
I hope our fans remember how these guys went to the well for them. They gave everything and when the championship was won the reality was that the well was dry, the tank empty and the play offs a game too far.
When other fans stand and take the Micky out of the Steeler fans this weekend I hope our supporters remember that come August, the Steelers will be the first team back in training as we have the Champions Hockey League to look forward to.
Paul Thompson held his exit meetings this week. He will be addressing guys who gave their all.
Maybe some weren’t the most talented we have had here but they cared. I feel for Marek Pinc who is getting some criticism. Is this the goalie who agreed to play another week after his initial deal had run out because there wasn’t a replacement available in Europe? The same goalie who found his form, fought his way into form and beat out Nottingham and Cardiff, won back to back games in Belfast and delivered a title in Fife?
Don’t knock Pinc. Without the 37-year-old we would have been screwed.
So I hope eBay isn’t busy with Steeler fans off loading their final tickets. Go and stand there with pride. Be proud that Jeff Legue wore your shirt. Nine years a Steeler, the club’s all time goal and point record holder. Jason Hewitt, the man with the most appearances in league history, wouldn’t hide. He’d be there.
I will walk around the NIC and get more abuse than anyone. My table is booked at Hooters in Nottingham on Friday night. When the beer is flowing the several hundred in there will, I am sure, start their rumblings aimed at me. Bring it on, we are the Steelers, the League champions.
Walk with a straight back, an orange shirt knowing we are following the biggest and the best club in British ice hockey. The only club to win the league championship five times.