Nobody likes to kick a man when he is down - but it is fair to say that some Sheffield Steelers players are not beside themselves with grief over the sacking of coach Doug Christiansen.
One player has spoken, behind closed doors, of a “black cloud being lifted.” Another is looking forward to playing without being “shackled” by Christiansen’s precise and keenly-observed personal coaching manual. Some talk of “over-coaching.”
The post-Christiansen era, ironically, starts tomorrow at Cardiff Devils, a club where there are people with designs on the Sheffield job. As The Star revealed yesterday Gerad Adams is a top contender. He is committed to a testimonial dinner in Wales on February 24 but could join Sheffield after that. Cardiff caretaker coach Dave Whistle is also interested. He is on a short-term contract there.
Other possibles include Peter Russell, Great Britain U20 coach, who has run benches at Swindon, Bracknell and Slough and Chris Eimers, of Friesland Flyers, Netherlands.
Until a man is installed, captain Steve Goertzen will be in charge, although it is a big ask for the winger to play, coach, study at the University of Sheffield on top of a busy family life.
Owner Tony Smith feels Goertzen will fill the immediate void well. “Steve will cope, although I accept there are many pressures on him. My decision was made for the right reasons-this is a results business and I have to listen to fans who thought the style of play was, at times, dull. I don’t like seeing people watching the TV (in executive boxes) rather than the game.”
You get the impression Smith would like the new boss’s character to be somewhere between Ryan Finnerty and Christiansen: a figurehead who can lead a dynamic, entertaining team but plan meticulously ahead of each game. He says he also wants to see creative players like Jeff Legue and Rob Dowd “flourish” without the same level of control.
*See our video taken with Chris Blight, following Wednesday’s defeat by Nottingham Panthers, but before the news of the sacking.