What a difference a week makes. Seven days ago, meltdown and then on Tuesday evening it was like a second coming as the club confirmed the appointment of two time Stanley Cup champion Tom Barrasso as our new head coach.
The resume is certainly impressive and my references tell me that we have an intense, diligent and very well-prepared man coming into the club.
Give credit to owner Tony Smith who, once Barrasso was identified, took on the task of ensuring the club’s first choice arrived ASAP. Talks and negotiations went late into several nights. When the deal was done it was only a matter of hours before Tom touched down.
What an opening game for Tom to make his first appearance behind the Steelers bench as well on Saturday in Nottingham. Then he will get his first real look at the side he has inherited. Hopefully Jordan Owens will be back in the line-up. Good news is that Robert Dowd should be back for the game four days later next Wednesday against Fife at the Fly DSA Sheffield Arena – one of the club’s £5 all ticket games – Barrasso’s first on the home bench.
The Steelers sit bottom of the league, tied on six points.
A couple of points from mid-table, so too early to read too much into league positions, but certainly concerning.
Once Owens and Dowd return the club looks a lot different and then the new boss will have to decide what changes he wishes to make. I’ve said before that one of the problems to date is that of players playing out of position.
We’ve asked Lawrence to play on a second line when he was brought into centre the fourth. Eberle, Della Rovere have seen PP time and moved on to a second line when they were bought here to be a checking line on the third unit.
I think we will only see the real Steelers once we are back to full strength. Remember when we did play a four-line game we beat Nottingham?
Goals are, of course, the other big worry. We just don’t score enough right now. It is all well and good saying change this player and that but before you can decide who to change you have to have a replacement and at this time of the year that isn’t easy. Finding the right guys of the right quality within the budget will perhaps be the toughest job Tom will have in the next month.
One huge positive was the response to the signing on Tuesday evening.
There will be a honeymoon period that we must all relish but also work through to ensure that it’s not just a period and that it is for a much longer time.
Years ago when appointing a coach you looked within the league. It was always felt that the Elite League had its own idiosyncrasies and that you needed experience of them. Times have changed and new coaches with new ideas are arriving. We have seen that of course in Nottingham this year as well.
Those new coaches though will experience a shock to the system as well. Coaching here is very different to coaching in Europe. Coaching there is coaching. Coaching here is 24/7 all hands on deck doing whatever is needed.
These first few weeks especially we all have to be there for the new leader of the pack, assisting, helping and supporting. I’m sure that won’t be an issue.
Next Wednesday evening at the Arena will be a special night and, as good as it will be to hopefully see Dowd back, it will be a huge welcome home to a man who in his playing days made history in the biggest and best league in the world.
The first man to go from High School to the NHL and in doing so then to become NHL rookie of the year and a Vezna trophy winner. Later of course a Stanley Cup champion. When looking for a new coach I always felt experience was key and I’m delighted we did go down that route.
Barrasso is an experienced man in both playing and coaching terms and he has won as both as well. That’s important, winning is important. Tom Barrasso is our man, for our club. We wish him every ounce of luck in the world.