Steelers have been stunned by a U-turn decision from Ryan Menei - the goal sniper they never had.
In June, the freescoring forward had inked a contract to play for Sheffield next season.
The club had heralded his arrival as the man who would put up “big numbers” for them in the Elite League.
But the Canadian has now told the club he won’t be coming, blaming non-specific family complications.
Owner Tony Smith said: “I pushed Doug [Christiansen, coach] to get him to change his mind when Menei said he wouldn’t be coming, and Doug tried for a couple of days.
“It is baffling, but we’ve had to let it go. It seems his wife didn’t want to come to England.”
“He would have made a massive difference for us - Nottingham Panthers had offered him an extra £200 a week to go there. There are some players you think are 10 a penny, but this guy would have put big numbers for us.
“At least we have five or six weeks to find somebody else.”
Steelers will unveil a new forward next week, but he is not any replacement for Menei, simply a player who would have played alongside him.
Christiansen said: “I am disappointed to lose a player of Ryan’s perigee but I cannot fault a player who makes the best decision for his family. I wish him the best of luck in the future.”
It means that Steelers will still have two forwards and one defenseman to sign after Tuesday’s signing announcement.