Davis Simms Sheffield Steelers’ ice hockey column: Experience is key for new manager

A lot of chatter since Bob Westerdale broke the story regarding the coaching situation at the Steelers for next year.

Friday, 15th February 2019, 10:32 am
Updated Friday, 15th February 2019, 10:37 am
Tom Barrasso on the Steelers' bench

When you break it down it’s a simple story with no rights and wrongs. We have a coach who we advised that we would like to retain for next season. He thanked us but advised us that he wishes to examine his options in Germany and Russia. We understood that, we talked about the latest he could advise us of his plans but it soon became apparent that his dates and our dates didn’t match up.

So Tom keeps coaching the Steelers and we start looking for a replacement. The good news is that we have ample time and that there are good quality candidates that are being made available to us.

Owner Tony Smith will oversee the recruitment of a new head coach as he has done successfully since he took over the club 8 years ago. I am one of those casting the net out in the hockey world as we try and find ourselves a man who can take us forward over a 3 year period. We don’t want to be in the position we have been this year again.

My view has always been and remains that we need an experienced head coach. This Steelers job is huge, the biggest in our country. It isn’t a job for a weak mind or inexperienced man.

So how do we find such a person? Well the process is pretty simple. You use every contact you have to advise that a position is open. When names become available you do the most diligent research you can. You explore every avenue, every aspect of his life, his history and dissect. You speak to the man, not once or twice but several times. You obtain every reference possible, not off his list of references (those people will only ever say good things) but you find your own. Players who have played for him, coaches who have coached against him. GMs that have worked with him.

We will try and give ourselves options. Recruiting now isn’t like it was recruiting in October and November once the season has started. Back then most people were in work. We were lucky Tom Barrasso had a clause in his contract allowing him to move from Italy to Sheffield.

That word “Recruiting” has become the word of the moment hasn’t it? It is certainly a word we have been using in the interviewing process as it is 100% critical that the new head coach recruits his side for next season. Of course, it is likely the new coach won’t have a knowledge of the GB players so the club will look after that side. We also have some contracted players but after that the responsibility lies with the new boss. It’s how it should be. Tom Barrasso is a workaholic and we are in no doubt that he will do everything in his remaining time here to extract every ounce out of the group we have here at the moment. Tom and Tony have met and talked a few times and both are fully aware of each others views and requirements moving forward. Rest assured that the club will do whatever it takes to find the best man for the job, one that fulfulls all the roles expected as the boss of the Sheffield Steelers.

Meanwhile, Steelers picked up 4 points last weekend, thus moving back into a play off position. Bad news was that we lost the services of Mark Matheson for an unknown period of time. The search began immediately for a replacement but with only a few days left before the signing deadline it is unlikely that a replacement will be found, a blow certainly.

This weekend the Steelers will have to do it all over again, last weekend they beat Nottingham and Coventry and face the same opponents this Saturday and Sunday. The only difference this week is that we are in Nottingham on Saturday.

We will keep our fingers crossed that Robert Dowd makes an appearance this weekend, what a boost that would be.