Steelers’ new management duo join forces in Sheffeld today at the start of an important few days in the evolution of the championship club.
Head coach Paul Thompson welcomes his new assistant coach Jerry Andersson to the city to start detailed discussions on how to pilot the side to a third-straight league title. While the pair worked together in Andersson’s Sweden, at Troja-Ljungby, this will be the first time they have linked up at Sheffield Arena, where discussions will include the Scandinavian’s precise role.
They will lead a team that has retained only 11 members of last year’s team - so half the roster will be new boys. “That sort of change is natural, I suppose, as three players retired, (Legue, Hewitt, Sarich) and there were others (Coyle and Vestberg) that was disappointing to see go” said Thompson.
“On top that, like every year, a coach looks to upgrade some positions along the way. Recruiting has been helped by the quality of the League. Rather than being a destination league for players who are done in the AHL or Europe it’s now seen as a stepping stone to better things. I have kept the ‘engine room’ of the team from last year and while we have players yet to sign, the majority are secured and that’s a good place to be.
“Jerry is an experienced hockey man with a great knowledge of the European game. He’ll bring maturity, is cool and calm - although he has an edge when he needs to show it. He will run our defence on match night and deputise when I am elsewhere. We will welcome him to Sheffield this week and define his role properly.
“Jerry’s helped with the recruitment already - he is a cyclist and actually pedalled his way to meet Markus Nilsson to talk about joining us!”
The Swedish centre is an interesting addition to the side. With Sheffield rolling four complete lines, it’s possible he could start off on the fourth unit - but is more than capable of being moved up to one of the other formations. Thompson said: “I know Nilsson from Troja, he works hard, is smart, has speed and skates well. He has all the attributes you need, can play on any line or situation and is a very positive bloke.”