Paul Thompson has denied his team for next year will feature more brawn than brain and says that even his most physical skaters will have plenty of skill to put on show for Sheffield Steelers’ fans.
The coach wanted to instil some more physical presence in the squad and has added imports who can mix it up when the situation requires. But Thommo says: “I don’t know whether the word toughness sums up what I’ve been looking: maybe competitiveness sums it up. Last year we had points-producing d-men like Cullen Eddy playing with an edge and I hope to see that with players like Mike Duco and Levi Nelson who put decent numbers up while playing gritty hockey.
“Zack Fitzgerald will keep the play honest but he was an AHL defenceman for six years and there are plenty of other elements of his game that will be important to us. The only thing that last year’s team lacked at times was a little bit of bite. Players like Dustin Kohn and Eddy had to get involved (in physical confrontations) when ideally you’d have wanted them mainly free to concentrated on other things. We’re not looking to run up the penalty minutes. We have to say within the paramater of the rules. It may be that our gritty players will attract penalties from opponents rather than sitting out themselves.”
Thompson says he’s confident that he will have enough penalty killers like Duco, Fredrik Vestberg, Mathieu Roy, Colton Fretter and Tyler Mosienko to protect the defensive zone when they are reduced in numbers.
He is aware that other rival Elite teams are being built with physicality in mind.
“Coventry Blaze are going to have toughness, Nottingham Panthers have a couple of tough guys and going to Cardiff Devils is always going to be a battle” he said.