STEELERS’ coach Ryan Finnerty is planning to unite his two smallest players to lead the champions’ offensive thrust this coming season.
Finnerty has provisionally planned for playmaker Jeff Legue to work alongside new Canadian recruit Mike Ramsay.
Legue is about 5ft 9ins, with Ramsay an inch smaller.
They will be dwarfed by the defencemen they are up against, but Finnerty thinks the combination of Legue’s passing accuracy and savage slapshot will be a perfect foil for his skilled Ontrario countryman.
Last year centreman Legue, 30, scored 40 goals and 40 assists. While right winger Ramsay, 26, playing for Odessa Jackalopes in the Central Hockey League, had a comparable spread of 34+37.
“I think Ramsay will start with Leggy,” confirmed Finnerty, who has been an admirer of Legue since playing with him in the Sheffield team of 2007-8.
Meanwhile, as the potential offensive blueprint is being formed, defenceman Mark Thomas believes defence will be the key to a successful defence on the league title. Defence wins championships,” said Thomas. “I think as a club we have shown that if you build from the back you can win the league” said the GB international, who is about to embark on his seventh season with the club.
“I’m excited by the signing of (goaltender) John Decaro. I like those big (6ft 3ins) stand-up goalies. I like what I have read and have been told about this guy. He is a proven winner and seems to be a big signing for us. On the blue line only Roddy Sarich and I return but I think Ryan has done a super job putting the other three guys in along side us.
“We have youth, experience, offence and defence in that group, we are a good mix. All three of them have won before so I am sure they will buy into defence-first. If they don’t then they soon will.
“Once training camp starts we will soon come together. Whilst it’s sad a lot of old friends won’t be back it’s exciting seeing so many new faces.
“Finner told us he didn’t want guys playing out their careers here, he wanted guys who wanted to prove themselves, well I think he has done just that with these signings.”
Thomas is also intrigued about a battle within the Steelers’ team, for the ninth forward position. “Competition is always important for places and both Lee Esders and Tom Squires will want a regular shift,” said Thomas. “Tom has been in the gym, putting weight on, he needed to and if he does we could have a real treat in store, we all saw last year, when he scored 10 goals, that he knows where the net is.
“Other than playing against him I don’t know Lee Esders but he will come into a dressing room focused on winning and retaining our league championship. He will find us all welcoming and helpful, a good place to come to work.”