STEELERS misfit Nick Duff spoke for the first time today of his heartache at being repeatedly dropped by Sheffield coach Ryan Finnerty.
The American defenceman joined halfway through the season, but has since been dumped for 10 of the 25 games.
“I have been sidelined for every game that we’ve chalked up as the most important game of the season,” said Duff, who has missed matches against champions Belfast Giants, Nottingham Panthers and Braehead Clan among others.
“I couldn’t be a part of the Friday game in Belfast (when Giants sealed the title) that was a huge blow for our club. To be in the stands and not able to help was extremely discouraging. The game in Nottingham we had (only) four defencemen. And not to play on Sunday (last league game v Braehead) was depleting to say the least. I think I could have helped. I haven’t played in the bigger games and we have lost.
“When you see your team out there you want to be able to help. When you can’t, you can’t describe the feeling. It’s tougher than anything.
“I admit it took me a while to get my feet settled in this league but I thought that when I got settled I played some good games.”
Duff said he hadn’t flown halfway across the world intending to sit out games - and feels the same for Canadian winger Neil Clark who has also frequently been left out, but, ironically is now back in the squad after yesterday’s axing of Colt King. “He (Clark) scored 35 goals and had 10 fights and has still been up in the stands. He’s been here and won a Championship,” he said
The 26-year-old import doesn’t expect to get the nod for this weekend’s Play-off quarter-finals against Hull Stingrays.
“I don’t think I’ll get picked, Not playing last weekend was a clear distinction that Finner doesn’t want me to play in the Play-offs. I thought I’d have a chance to play last Sunday. We gave up three goals in that third period. Big games are where I can come to play. I play a defensive game. I don’t get a lot of points, I don’t play fancy, but I do play hard and make hits. I have been a ‘plus player’ since getting here.
“I’m still glad I came, I got to see England. Would I like to contribute more? To play this weekend would mean everything.”