TONY Smith will be putting on a brave face at Sheffield Steelers’ much-vaunted Festival of Hockey this afternoon – despite being body-checked by an £8,000 blow.
The new Steelers owner has been meeting the bill for all the club’s import players to fly in from North America – with another big budget set aside for the return of foreign stars of yesteryear, who will play in the Legends game this afternoon.
Today’s festival is vital to Steelers’ financial well-being as the 2011-12 season ticket money disappeared when the club’s last operating company went bust.
So an extra amount spent on bringing in new goalie John DeCaro was an unexpected headache for Smith. DeCaro only received his visa clearance on Wednesday so to fly him to the UK from Alaska, with his family, on the first available flight meant no scope for discounts.
A Steelers source said: “While it is important that a profit is made, Tony is just as determined to make today a success and he wants our new goalie on show for the friendly against Cardiff Devils (6.30pm). It was a costly decision but based on the fans getting their money’s worth.”
Another debutant, Steve Birnstill, was due to arrive in the country at around 7am today, from New York.