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Sheffield Steelers: Losing favourites hurts - but it’s the cycle of sport

Zack Fitzgerald takes his robust style back to Glasgow
Zack Fitzgerald takes his robust style back to Glasgow

The first week of the summer and it’s business as usual for Steelers.

Work is full on involving all areas of the club – we do only have about 16 weeks until we start up again...

Don’t expect much news out of the club over the next few weeks, but also don’t think that nothing is happening. Quite the reverse. We’re all excited about the changes taking place ahead of the new season.

Since last writing came the news of Jerry Andersson’s departure as he heads back home to Sweden. Many questioned Jerry’s role but he was a big cog in Steelers wheel. A good, decent hockey man whose experience we called on as we moved from the team to club mentality. Always calm and thoughtful. We thank him for how much he cared for our club.

You will have read that some of the players who the club decided not to retain have started to find new homes and we are delighted for them. Zack Fitzgerald has returned back to Braehead to play for the club he first joined over here four years ago.

Just because as a club we decided to move in a different direction doesn’t mean there is animosity. Far from it. We thank Zack for everything he did for us. He is one of life’s good people. He has a big summer with the end of his Sheffield University degree course, the birth of his first child and now a new challenge with the Clan.

He has only friends here in Sheffield. We wish him nothing but the best.

Ervins Mustukovs will soon have found a new home as well, a little further afield than Braehead. Records will show three championships in four years over two spells at the club. He will go do down as one of the great Steeler goalies.

Cycles come and go in sport and in Steelers too. Remember when the likes of Ken Priestlay were lifting trophies? We thought Kenny and the gang would last forever. Then in 97-98 a sixth place finish, 98-99 a Cup but a disappointing year and then 99-2000 then end of the dynasty as the final remains of the good-time squad moved on as the likes of Ed Courtenay and Rob Wilson departed.

2000 saw the start of a new period of time and domination, a Grand Slam in the 2000-01 season, a title we retained the following year. Play off success thereafter all under Mike Blaisdell.

After that another period of a couple of trophy-less years before the Matsos era, league and cup success again as we dominated.

After Dave left we again had a period where we struggled and then, success with both Gerad Adams and Paul Thompson in recent times. It’s the cycle of sport. Cardiff have just won their first play off title in 18 years. Nottingham have won the league once since 1956.

We all shuddered when Ron Shudra left but then came Shayne McCosh and Dennis Vial. Would you have traded Messrs Bolibruck and Munn for those two?

I guess the message is that our favourites come and go, we all get attached. In my office hangs the game-worn shirt of Jay Forslund – my first favourite at Solihull – next to that a Jason Lafreniere shirt. Next to that the shirt of Jeff Legue, what a legend he was. I will make sure I get a Mathieu Roy shirt as well.

The one thing all of the above (except Forslund) and many, many others share is that they wore our shirt and that remains the one constant. They were all Steelers and trust me inside they remain all Steelers.

Next season will see that start of a new generation of heroes and players we become attached too, new favourites. We never forget those who have left us and they all remain a part of our memories. Fitzy, Mustukovs and the Great Colton Fretter can never be forgotten, but we move on, we have to. Clubs like our can’t stand still, we never have and the Steelers way is that we never will. Sometimes we get criticised for that. It’s the price you pay for being the most successful club in the country over the last two decades.

As I said don’t hang your hats on much news in the short term, be patient, it’s coming. Now go cut your lawn, it’s the summer. 16 more cuts until the hockey season!