DAVE Simms believes rookie player-coach Ryan Finnerty will become a modern-day version of Grand Slam winner Mike Blaisdell.
Sheffield Steelers’ long-serving official says the fire in Finnerty’s belly - and his relationship with his players - mirrors Blazer, who brought glory and passion to the club from 2001-4.
“I see many similarities between Blazer and Finner” says Simms, who has worked with every coach since the club’s inception two decades ago.
“I had my best time under Mike’s leadership. He was a man you wanted to work hard for. I wanted to work hard for him and obtain his approval. All Blazer’s players wanted the same. Mike had an ability to get his players to deliver. None of Mike’s players ever wanted to let him down” said Simms.
“I see so much of that with Ryan. I don’t think this is the best or most gifted team we have had in our history but it seems to have the character of those great teams of the past - a lot of that is down to Ryan.
“I see the players looking up to him and seeing him lead from the front like he did last weekend playing while injured with a back complaint. Some players would have said: “Can’t play tonight’ but he put the skates on and played hard for 120 minutes
“Players see that and they see that he isn’t taking a shift off, and if he isn’t they can’t either. He is a player’s coach, just like Blaisdell was.
“After the tie with Coventry on Saturday, I walked into the dressing room and heard Ryan speaking to the players. He demands work ethic, he won’t let any player get away with short-changing him or the rest of the team.
“He demands total commitment. He makes sure that the rest of us at the club do our jobs so he can do his.
“Is he the finished article?” asked Simms? “Of course he isn’t. He’s a first-year coach learning his trade. But he encompasses all the assets and potential of the great Steeler coaches of the past, like Blaisdell. Blazer would have run his own grandmother over for a win against Panthers and Ryan would do the same this coming weekend (Dundee, away, Saturday, Nottingham Panthers, home, Sunday.)”