Sheffield Steelers players are going to have to compete harder than they have ever done if they are going to repair their damaged relationship with coach Paul Thompson.
Wednesday’s feeble home defeat to an under-strength Edinburgh Capitals made the team boss look at many of his players in a new light.
He called their display as “awful, embarrassing.”
And he accused 70 per cent of the team of having no effort and commitment.
Thompson admitted he had not seen the character flaw coming.
But it infected almost the entire team, with the noted exception of the Jeff Legue, Chris Lawrence and Levi Nelson line.
Thompson summed up his side with ruthless honesty.
“Goaltending was non-existent. Defensively awful. Gambling, not stopping and starting on pucks. No desire, we obviously thought we’d won the game when we turned up at
“I am embarrassed with the whole performance.
“We played into their hands. We had one line, Legue, Lawrence and Nelson, the others just huffed and puffed but nothing happened; they were the ones that created. They were plus 3 on the night” said Thompson.
“I am appalled at the performance and their attitude and that has got to change. Yeah we are banged up, yeah we’re hurt. Well someone else has got to step up.
“We’ve got to go back look at it and be honest with ourselves. That’s not good enough. We can’t hide.”
Thompson accepted his team had looked slow starters in several recent games, where they have fallen behind on the scoreboard.
“I agree. But that was awful, like a shinny hockey game.
“We were playing against a side that had just come here to stack the neutral zone and to flip pucks in and hope we cheat and get on the wrong side of the puck. And that is exactly what happened. Terrible.
“We have played hard all season, we lost 5-1 at Cardiff Devils but we had effort there and commitment. We didn’t have it from 70 per cent of the group (against Caps.)
“They are better than that. We now have to re-group and get going again.”
Lawrence is on a short-term deal with Steelers - but injuries and form may extend his deal with the defending league champions. “We do have a lot of guys hurt, and we will have to rest them up. It took him 25 minutes to get in the game, he’s been off for a week. He scored two big goals for us and if we wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have had a point. So he has had a pretty good start, I would say.”
The worst injuries in the camp are Rob Dowd - rumoured to have a broken hand - and Mike Duco, who is thought to have been hurt in a fight against Nottingham Panthers, last weekend.
But it is clear the rest of the team have to start re-building their coach’s confidence in them.