In his testimonial year, there is one thing that Jason Hewitt won’t want to be: a bench warmer.
You don’t play over 600 games for a team like the Steelers without having steely inners and dogged determination. And I certainly don’t get the feeling that Hewitt has lost his, and is about to light his pipe and put the slippers on.
Jason is too proud a man for that. He has Ron Shudra’s appearance record in sight and for this, his 11th season with the club, he doesn’t want to play a bit-part role - he wants to be in the thick of the action.
I must admit that I don’t think that will happen, either; Paul Thompson knows what a valuable asset, both on and off the ice, the Bulldog can be.
Messrs Matsos, Finnerty, Christiansen and Adams have all, come the end of a season, questioned whether that was time for Hewitt. All of them, though, when weighing up the pros and cons, decided that he was a player this club just couldn’t do without.
If you want a guy to call it as it is in the room, Hewey is your man. If things aren’t going well on the ice and you need either an energy shift or someone to get under the collar of the opposition, then Hewey is your man.
Question Hewitt and that’s when he answers you in the best style. They said he would never make the national side - he bust his backside and ended up playing 34 times for Great Britain. And who was the coach that gave him his international break and believed in him? Paul Thompson.
Because Hewitt doesn’t score you 20 a season, he becomes an easy target most summers for those requesting change. But look at what he does bring you.
Face off wins, energy, a great penalty killer and shot blocker. A guy who tapes the body up most nights because he is hurt, because that’s the style of game he plays.
You don’t play 612 games at full fitness... you play hurt, saw and injured.
The fans in the stands might not know but the other 20 guys in the room do. They see what you are going through for the club, for them, and they respond.
You don’t have to wear a C or an A on your shirt to be a leader. Guys do it in different way and Hewitt is one of those guys.
I’ve been stood on a team bench when games haven’t been going our way. It’s easy for heads to drop.
One constant over the past 10 seasons is Hewitt’s bellowing voice as he encourages his team mates, or on many occasions sledges the opposition. You are never beaten with him in your corner.
Jason Hewitt might never be an All Star, might never lead the scoring charts, but without Hewitt the Steelers wouldn’t have won what they have in the past decade and wouldn’t be the club they are today.
Inside the DNA of the Sheffield Steelers is now a bit of the DNA of Jason Hewitt.
Young Luke Ferrara joins the Steelers for his first full season. I am sure as a youngster making his way, he looks at the team’s superstars and tries to emulate them.
My advice to young Master Luke, though, would be to look at Jason Hewitt.
Look at what has kept him at the country’s top team for all these years.
The fact that he is one of those guys who gives a damn and cares, and will do whatever is asked at whatever time, means that players like him are not only always wanted... but, more importantly, always needed.
Jason Hewitt will play more than his fair share of minutes this season. Why am I so confident? Because he won’t allow it to be any other way and will make sure he is noticed and used.
Whenever the time comes, he will do what he has done for the last 10 years and not let this club and his team mates down one little bit.
Remember the saying: a Bulldog isn’t just for Christmas, it’s for life, and Jason Hewitt’s days with the Steelers are far from over.
Hewitt and his team mates will commence their training camp on Monday August 10, one week ahead of the two Holiday Inn Royal Victoria Cup games against Braehead Clan on Saturday and Sunday, August 15 and 16 (iceSheffield).
Steelers then begin their Champions Hockey League campaign with fixtures in Sweden and Finland before returning for home games at the Sheffield Arena Vs JYP Jyvaskyla on Sunday August 30, and Frolunda Gothenburg on Saturday September 5.
Tickets for all games available at the Sheffield Arena Box Office: 0114 256 5656.