David Simms Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team column: Rebuild needs to be built on quality

Evan McGrath
Evan McGrath

It was good to see a smile on so many faces last Sunday, it’s been a long time since we have walked out of the Arena after a win. A well deserved one as well.

The re-building process has started and new troops are required and I’m sure will be here shortly. It’s important though that we only sign quality, guys who will help Tom turn the ship around.

Brendan Brooks is the first to leave, his contractual situation was different to the rest.

He was signed on an initial short term deal and that expired last Sunday after the game against Manchester.

So it came down to a sign for the year or not and the decision was taken to thank Brendan for his time and service and wish him well. He immediately then hooked up with the coach who originally bought him to the UK, Ryan Finnerty and Manchester Storm.

Brendan is a top man and came to us at a difficult time, he was professional to the end and you have to tip your hat to him.

With Chris Lawrence still out of the line up and Evan McGrath due back, the Steelers are still short, reinforcements will of course be signed when the right guys become available and if we have to play short before that happens so be it.

The rebuild has to be built on quality.

There is nothing more than the club would like to do than announce a couple of 25-goal scoring American League forwards but they don’t grow on trees and are already in employment, this will be a longer job than we would have all hoped.

But, it will be done and done correctly.

Recruitment is a massive part of coaching these days. Tom is a single minded chap who will know exactly what type of player he requires, I imagine he will be diligent in his painstaking search.

The Steelers were in Guildford last night (Wednesdsay) and then on Saturday we are back home at the Arena against Nottingham.

It’s home rule right now between the Steelers and the Panthers with Nottingham winning twice in their own barn and us victorious in our Cup win a few weeks ago.

Nothing would send a more positive message than another win against our nearest and dearest on Saturday.

Evan McGrath being back has to a positive, he showed great form in pre-season and his resume suggests that we do have a top end player there.

He is someone we are all looking at and willing on. As a bloke he is a determined and focussed character who certainly has the will to succeed.

If you recall pre-season, it was Evan who teamed up so well with Jordan Owens and Robert Dowd to score 3 times against Leksands.

Some good news that went unnoticed this week was that the Steelers are 100% through the qualification rounds of the Challenge Cup and now group winners progressing into the round robin stages.

The Cup will see the top teams chose their opponents for the next round. Do you remember we chose Dundee last year at the same stage? It will be an interesting choice this time around for the two legged stage of the Cup.

Meanwhile, I was ear wigging an interview that The Star’s head of sport Bob Westerdale did with coach Tom Barrasso last Sunday when Bob was asking about Tom’s decision to pull goalie Jackson Whistle the previous evening.

I loved how he was thinking ahead to the next night. “I pulled him to protect him,” he said. “We were horrible and we had a big game the next night.”

Jackson, you would think would be the most excited Steeler with the prospect of working with Barrasso, what an opportunity to learn from the best.

I’m really looking forward to see his progression over the months ahead. Whistle’s performance last Sunday was first class and more nights like those are expected in the weeks ahead.

Steelers vs Nottingham Panthers on a Saturday night, it doesn’t get any better than that does it? Well it does, beating them on a Saturday night and that’s what we will all be trying to do this Saturday. Last week Owens and Dowd back, this week McGrath, it’s starting to come Sheffield and it will come I assure you.

See you at home on Saturday.