Jason Hewitt scored his 100th assist for the Steelers last week. He’s playing in his seventh season and I don’t think many of us would have thought that he would make it that far when he first arrived in Sheffield.
I won’t lie, Hewitt was so rough around the edges that anyone thinking he would become an integral part of the Steelers, let alone the GB national side, would have been dragged off to the local asylum.
What none of us knew then though was that Hewitt was old school, something the young British players of the day and of today weren’t. He quickly realised that if he wanted to stay in the game, make a living out of it and achieve something he would have to find his role and then make sure he was the best at it.
Jason did just that, he became a rink rat ... a player who would get under the opposition’s skin, a player who would make things happen, a player who would hound down the opposition, stand up to them and go into area’s of the ice where he knew it would be tough and dirty.
He could have had no finer teacher than Ryan Finnerty who played that role for the Steelers. Once Finnerty had left for Cardiff, Jason was promoted and made the job his own.
Hewitt also developed as a player. He wasn’t just the rat, he was the rat that killed penalties, who chipped in 17 goals in a championship season, who forced his way into the GB side and when many said it would be a one year experience he thought otherwise. Last season he played as second line centre, played on the first penalty kill and is a trusty servant to the National side.
Hewitt is all about the heart and soul, the passion and desire but to think he is only that would be disrespectful and downright wrong.
He has shown that it is possible to make your way in this game by sheer hard work and commitment. Many youngsters coming up through the ranks might look to the so-called superstars of the game as their role models but if I was a kid coming up through the junior system I don’t think I could look up to a better role model than Jason Hewitt.
Jason respects the game, he plays it the hard way because he doesn’t know any other way to play it. In seven years he has developed as a player but more so as a person.
He now leads a band of warriors on the ice, he is respected by his peers, by his coach and by the fans who know a thing or two about grafting themselves.
In a season where the Steelers celebrate 20 years at the Arena it’s interesting to look into the rafters and see then names of the retired shirts. You see the Cranston and the Plommer - two players who are held in the highest esteem by all associated at the club. Hewitt has embraced a similar spirit and in turn is becoming known as one of the most important players the club has had in the recent generation.
Hewitt and the Steelers face Dundee Stars at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday, face off 7pm (Arena box office 0114 256 5656).