Steelers’ former player-coach Ben Simon believes the club may find it difficult to find a replacement from within the team’s own ranks.
Owner Paul Ragan has begun the search for a new team boss and there are suggestions that a couple of players from within the dressing room - or at his other club Cardiff Devils -could be an option. Devils forward and former Steeler Ryan Finnerty remains a strong possibility.
But Simon says his former staff are aware of the problems he faced when he turned down a fresh contract. The American believes the budget was too small to accommodate both a player coach’s salary and a decent wage for the rest of the squad.
After telling the players of his decision, Simon told The Star: “The guys are a bit worried about their own futures, there is a sense of deja vu.
“They have had uncertainty before at this club and now I have dropped my own bombshell. It is a obviously a cause for concern for them as they have lives to lead and families to support.
“I received a good offer, in the broader sense, but I wouldn’t want 17 other guys to take a pay cut as a result of that. I couldn’t look players in the eye if I lived in a nice house with a great salary and they had to take less. Would they watch my back (on the ice) in those circumstances?” asked the forward. “There are several players (at the championship-winning club) who could do a good job but they have all been involved on a daily basis and seen what has transpired at the team.
“They may have the same reservations that I have - I have been honest and conveyed my position on this to them.”
Simon’s decision to quit is likely to impact on the imports, in particular. Some like Jerramie Domish already have other irons in the fire. Yesterday, Ragan told fans he was “gutted” at losing Simon. “We tried our best to retain Ben. We made him offers that would have seen him become the highest paid person in the British game. When I arrived here I said I’d do everything I could to keep Ben on and I did” said Ragan.
“I understand the fans are upset. I am as well. I was looking forward to seeing the team he put together. We will work around the clock to ensure that we have the best on ice team, as we have been doing since we arrived.”