SHEFFIELD STEELERS’ top scorer Neil Clark may end up being the Elite League bargain player of the year.
The assertive left winger was forced to take a pay cut to return to Sheffield Steelers – despite helping them to a championship title last year.
Former owner Paul Ragan engineered the cut-price deal, knowing that, off ice, Clark was committed to a second year at the University of Sheffield.
Not surprisingly, it seems a touchy subject with the player, himself.
Clark told The Star that his salary adjustment “was a personal decision by Paul Ragan” adding: “ I was forced to, I had no options, I needed to come back.”
But asked about how he felt about that issue he snapped the slapshot observation: “I am not going to answer that - it doesn’t make any sense.”
Whether he feels the club’s former owner could have been more generous, we can only speculate.
But his own personal generosity is lavish when it comes to his linemates, Jeff Legue and Mike Ramsay, whom he credits for each and every one of HIS seven goals and five assists.
“Ramsay and Leggy are going to score goals and if you are being on the ice with them you are going to score,” says the 30-year-old, who played eight games with AHL team Rochester Americans.
“It was the same thing playing with (Ben) Simon and (Rob) Globke last season; they were the reason I scored all my points. That’s what happens when you have good players. At least one of them have scored every game this season, so you are going to get on the board.”
Clark looks deadly near goal for Sheffield, yet doesn’t agree that his importance and profile has changed at the club.
“I don’t think anybody wants me to be an impact player,” he said.
Instead, he said that, as a senior player: “You get older, you get slower so you need to be smarter.”
Sheffield play Hull and Fife at home on Saturday and Sunday, fixtures fans will expect maximum points from. But Clark said: “I haven’t seen Fife, but Hull are a good team; I think they’ll be fighting for the middle or towards the top of the league.”