Dave Simms column: This time we really do look champions
It's time to make history.
If Sheffield Steelers are to go on and become the first club to win three championships in a row then it will start this Saturday when the club take on Aalborg Pirates of the Danish Elite League.
Two games in as many nights will be Steelers only games before next Thursday when they commence their Champions Hockey League campaign in Sweden next Thursday and then Austria 48 hours later.
The Steeers side got together for the first time on Monday to commence their training camp – a week at iceSheffield before the two Aalborg games at the weekend. It’s not long for Paul Thompson to get acclimatised to his new side that boasts many new signings.
The one thing I can tell you from my first meeting is that they are in shape. Every player looks ready to go. The fitness tests showed an incredible 15% improvement from last year.
One thing that felt very comfortable was the Thompson/Andersson partnership. It can’t be underestimated how important this will be over the next eight months. I felt right off the bat that Andersson has fitted in, there is a comfort between the two of them.
They have worked together before and share the same ideas and work ethic. Andersson is a man with experience. You get the feeling that nothing fazes him, a calming influence.
Jerry might has worked at SHL level and been one of the top GM’s in the Allsvenskan. Therefore I have to admit in feeling proud of our club when he repeated tells me how “first class” the operation is here. Here is a man who has worked at the top level and he is now a Steeler.
That’s when you have to stand back and say what an improvement the club has made, especially since Thompson arrived 12 months ago.
Now is the time that all of us at the club must leave Thompson and Andersson to lock themselves away and work with their team. The rest of us must concentrate on our jobs, mine is a simple one. Making all of you aware that the season is starting in just a few days time. M
aking sure you are aware what’s happening with the club and how excited you should all be with what we have planned for you from now until April.
Folks, this isn’t hype.
The biggest Steelers squad in our 25 season history, four lines plus two exciting apprentices. An experienced mix of GB internationals, skilled Europeans and clinical North Americans. A goalie who stops pucks, a man who for the last decade has stopped 92% of everything fired at him.
This is a puck possession team, it will skate hard and fast, it will move the puck quickly. Its stars aren’t prima donnas. Top goal scorer Mathieu Roy will drop to his knees and block shots with the same effort as he will rip the puck top shelf.
It should give you a bit of everything – speed, skill, toughness and work ethic.
For 25 years I’ve written this article, the one before the first game of the season.
Some years I’ve had to whip myself in to enthusiasm. Some times I’ve lied telling you “This is the year.” As I type this I have a sense of comfort in the direction that Thompson is taking us.
We are a club full of good people from ownership downwards. I can’t guarantee you a championships and wouldn’t dream of doing so, but I tell you, I have a great feeling that the Steelers are about to make history.