STEELERS new goalie John DeCaro is confident that he has overcome two serious injuries in recent seasons - one of them a potential career-ender.
The American suffered a severe groin injury, always a nightmare complaint for a goaltender, which required surgery after a freak accident in a match.
He also lost his hopes of landing a berth in the big time, a possible call-up to the Buffalo Sabres, when a slap shot during warm-up broke his collar bone.
“They were difficicult times but I am good to go now,” says the 28-year-old, speaking from his home in Washington.
“I am very excited about coming over to England, getting to know the hockey and learning the culture over there. I have never been to Europe before but I have heard good things from (former Steelers goalie) Kevin Reiter and Jeff Legue (an old school mate).
“I played against (player coach) Ryan Finnerty in junior and after experiencing AHL and ECHL hockey I am looking forward to seeing what its like over there.”
DeCaro had been on Nottingham Panthers’ radar for some time.
He said: “Several times, over three seasons, we have spoken but something always came up to prevent it happening, from one side or another.
“But I have heard about the rivalry and can’t wait to play in that atmosphere.”
DeCaro, who is 6ft 3ins tall, says fans won’t see anything flashy in his style.
“I just play simple and safe and try to block as much as I can, so I can help put my team in a position to win. I work on my rebound control all the time.”
DeCaro, who has a wife and two daughters aged five and 15 months, has played three out of the last four years at financially-stricken Louisiana-based Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in the Central Hockey League.
He hopes to have navigated his way past import red tape in time for Steelers’ 20th birthday celebrations on August 27.