Cory Pecker paid the price of taking the Steelers and the EIHL too lightly.
The man who graced the American Hockey League 311 times should have come to Sheffield and become one of the stars of the show.
However, once he arrived he looked like a fish out of water, a yard slower than his team mates and and unable, in the weeks that followed, to catch up.
The writing was on the wall for Pecker before his poor performance against Coventry last Sunday and his frustrated 5 minute penalty and game misconduct for butt-ending whilst the Steelers were on the power-play chasing an equalising goal.
Ryan Finnerty had made his mind up earlie - he must have done.
Young Lee Esders, a player with just 37 Elite league goals in 237 appearances, had taken his spot on the line with Ashley Tait and Jeff Legue.
Esders did everything that Pecker didn’t. Esders’ work ethic, determination and desire in training and in games was enough for Finnerty to decide that Pecker was surplus to requirements.
Normally an import wouldn’t be released until his replacement was found, yet Finnerty had seen enough to suggest that Esders was more than a replacement.
Pecker was paid to be the Steelers’ best player; on Sunday he was replaced by the guy paid to be their tenth.
Pecker isn’t the first and he won’t be the last to underestimate this league.Many have shown up in little old England expecting a season of easy goals, easy points and easy girls.
Some very average players have made a good career in the UK because they possessed a great work ethic, a great desire. Many super skilled players with outstanding resumes have failed early in their early weeks because they didn’t respect the league before they arrived here.
My view, and it is only my view, is that Cory Pecker is a name we could add to that list.
Finnerty did two things on Sunday night: of course, the first was to show Pecker the door and wish him well on his travels.
The second, and to me the most important, was to send a message and fire a warning shot to other Steelers players that this is a serious hockey club.
Whilst it doesn’t want to rule with an iron fist, whilst it doesn’t wish to fire anymore players, it will do so if performances and effort levels fall below that that is expected.
Overreaction? Some may think so. The Steelers are top of the league, top of their conference and have had the toughest start of any team in the EIHL playing only the top teams to date.
I back Finnerty 100% though, he did the right thing. I was so excited when we signed Pecker - I, along with others, expected great things.
He is a decent man and I wish him well, but the Steelers are my hockey club and everyone here hasn’t worked as hard as we all have over recent time for someone to come in and take a shift off.
The Steelers have always been the same. Work hard, graft for us, die for us and we will forgive you anything and do anything back for you in return.
Pete LeBoutillier was told his knees were shot and he should retire in November of his season with the club. He didn’t miss a game from that day until the end of the year.
He scored just 6 goals in 46 games but that wasn’t important. Mike Peron had worn his groins out; the physios said they could do no more. He didn’t take a shift off let alone a game.
Brebant couldn’t walk for half of the 2002-03 season, his point output was well down, but he grafted, he punched his ticket every day and has never been forgotten for doing so.
Sheffield can be the most forgiving club if your prepared to give of yourself.
However if, like Ed Courtenay, the most gifted goal scorer ever to wear a Steelers uniform, you aren’t prepared to work as well then it will drop you like a lead weight without any guilt whatsoever.
70 points in 42 games wasn’t enough to keep Eddie around for the Grand Slam year of 2001.
Courtenay famously stated “that skill beats hard work”.
Well, Eddie and others who believe that are wrong.
You come to this league without work ethic and you won’t be here long.
It was just a shame that Cory Pecker didn’t realise that before he got on the plane.