REMEMBER the good old Elite League days of 1995-2003?
The days of swashbuckling hockey led by the likes of Dennis Vial, Ed Courtenay and Scott Allison?
Well, they are back - or rather a modern day version of them are. That’s the view of Ashley Tait, and he should know a thing or two, having been a pro since 1990.
And Tait believes his Sheffield Steelers side can do more than hold there own in a supercharged Elite League which has been designed into two conferences, to become more attractive to fans.
The winger said: “It’s like the old Super League days. The quality of players coming in has increased and on top of that teams are carrying more players so the depth has improved as well. No team has upped the level of depth as much as we have this summer. As a player that motivates you. You work harder in the gym, you run longer and faster, lift more weights more often.
“You want to be at your best, you want to compete against these guys and show them you’re better. I want to compete against the former NHLer Mike Danton (Coventry), I want to go head to head against Noah Clarke (Belfast). Then there’s the American and German DEL guys coming in,” said Tait.
“The fans are in for a treat: more big games against the likes of Cardiff, Coventry, Belfast and Nottingham. Every one of the inter-conference games will be like a play-off game, there will be wars out there. Every team has speed, size, toughness but most importantly, quality. I don’t think any team in our conference has made anything close to a bad signing, they all look strong and deep.”
Tait has recovered from an injury which saw him out of action for 19 games.
“I missed the back end of last season so I am even hungrier to get back going,” the 36-year-old veteran said.
“I get a lot of stick for being the old man on the team but right now I have the enthusiasm of a teenager, it can’t start soon enough for me.”