NO-ONE was more surprised than Tom Squires when team-mate Rob Dowd flew the Sheffield Steelers’ nest.
The brilliant Teessider quit the club only a few short days after they had won the Elite League championship.
But Steelers’ apparent loss could be Squires’ gain - he looks set to get more ice time next season with a home-grown player of Dowd’s quality now wearing the shirt of Belfast Giants.
“I didn’t see that coming,” admitted Squires, as he reflected on Dowd’s defection.
“We are pretty good mates off the ice and I was surprised at first, but it is one of those things,” said the 20-year-old wing.
“With Colin Shields moving to France (Pingouins de Morzine-Avoriaz of the Ligue Magnus) Dowdy might become their top Brit.
“And while it was a surprise, some people just fancy a change in life, every so often. Whether it will be a good move for him, we won’t really know until the end of next season.”
Squires, who signed for Sheffield Steeldogs last October, certainly figures in player coach Ryan Finnerty’s plans, who has re-signed all the other Brits he wanted from last year’s squad with the exception of Northern Ireland bound Dowd.
The loss of Dowd was felt from the top of the club down to the bottom.
Owner Paul Ragan told The Star this week: “I can’t pretend that wasn’t a disappointment for us.”
And, generally, he added: “Sometimes if players are earning a certain figure and they want it doubled the following year, they move on.”
Squires played 45 games for Steelers, after switching from their English Premier League neighbours.
In the heat of some games, he was benched - something that he accepted and earned praise from bench coach Neil Abel, who said he had never moaned about being left out.
“It is all about working your way up and learning,” said Squires.
“I did it in the English Premier League and I was doing that last season in the Elite League.”
Squires is looking forward to playing alongside Finnerty: “He’s a hard -working guy who can put points on the board. It will be good to see his hard work mentality in the dressing room.”
Steelers have denied they failed to keep ex NHL star Rob Globke in touch with the decision to release him from a two-year contract. “We dealt directly with his agent,” said a spokesman.