Video: The new-look Sheffield Steelers will be good enough to challenge Cardiff Devils, says David Simms
Steelers' executive David Simms says his team - many of which have yet to be signed - will have a realistic chance of winning the Elite League in season 2018-19.
And he floated the suggestion that champions Cardiff Devils could run out of steam, in the same way Sheffield did last season.Speaking to The Star, Simms said Sheffield's comprehensive change in imports was directly related to the burning desire to close the gap between them and the Welsh, in terms of consistency and quality.And he denied that bringing in nine new imports would mean the club faces an uphill battle to form into a gelled unit good enough to challenge Andrew Lord's men."Who is to say Cardiff aren't going to hit the wall in the same way we hit the wall?" Simms asked.Devils have a great core of players and "were runners-up, runners-up, champions, champions, they are all four years older from when their charge started - let's see what happens when they have four or five major injuries."We were behind them and that's why we have made all the wholesale changes."I think we have a hell of a good chance of winning the championship."When signings are confirmed in the months ahead people will have great hope for the new year" he said."Let's see what happens when Joey Martin hits a wall, when (Andrew) Hothman hits a wall. Or Ben Bowns, God forsake, gets an injury."We weren't that far behind them. "We are going to be right up there challenging. That's what we do, is challenge."If we don't do well we change things and that's what we've done."Simms, often a controversial figure, says some people's dislike of him has been transferred, unfairly, to coach Paul Thompson, the man who built last year's team, took them to the Play Off final, but ended up empty-handed.Simms reminded people that Thompson was the man who had recruited players like Levi Nelson, Zack Fitzgerald, Mark Matheson, Andreas Valdix and Freddie Vestberg.Citing club history, he said former coaches Alex Dampier and Mike Blaisdell had made some "unbelievably good signings and some absolutely duds as well. It happens."Not at all times does it all come off and I think we have come to the end of the cycle."Simms stressed: "I think actually having me on his (Thompson's) shoulders as baggage does him more harm than good."A lot of the people who attack Paul, attack Paul because he is a mate of mine."They think it is a good way of getting to him. To get at me is to get at him."I have to tell you he has been the coach of our club for three years and I think the work he put in last year was probably better than the work he put in the two previous years.
"It just didn't turn around in results."