Sheffield Steelers: Clan dates hold key to success
The new Elite League structure will see the 10 clubs split into two geographic five team groups, with the Steelers joined by Belfast, Cardiff, Coventry and Nottingham.
Finnerty’s troops will meet each of those teams four times home and away while playing the remaining five sides, Braehead, Dundee, Edinburgh, Fife and Hull, just twice home and away.
Finnerty whole-heartedly supports the format change to the Elite League, saying: “I like it a lot. It will mean more exciting games for our fans and for the players as well. It will mean that come the end of the year when we add the points up, though, that Braehead Clan may have an advantage as they play more games against the so-called weaker sides.
“We will have to make sure that when we play Clan we take maximum points off them and hope that other teams in our conference do the same.”
Finnerty, who hung up his skates at the end of last season, said: “As a coach or a player, you want to play in the big games and in front of the big gates. Players don’t have a problem getting up for those games. Sometimes, after a six-hour bus trip to Edinburgh, it can be hard turning yourself on for those games. It’s why teams come unstuck up there from time to time. I love the idea of going into Cardiff in that full building with the fans screaming at me. It gets me going.
“I’ve heard some people say that we will be playing the same teams too often but I don’t see it that way. I think the fans would rather see us play in tight and exciting competitive games than perhaps one sided affairs.”