Sheffield Steeldogs have been unable to tempt Rod Sarich into the English Premier League - but haven’t given up on the mission yet.
Coach Andre Payette has twice spoken to the elegant defenceman who is surplus to requirements at Elite League neighbours, Steelers.
Payette, who thinks his side is the most passionate team in the area, thinks Sarich, 32, may re-consider and become one of the superior imports in hockey’s second tier. Speaking on video at thestar.co.uk, the Dogs’ coach said: “Rod would be one of the best players in the EPL.
“He is tremendously gifted with individual skills. A player like him would be fantastic for us, as well with his Sheffield roots (the Canadian/GB skater has been in the city since 2005.) I spoke to Rod a couple of times and I think he wants to take a rest from ice hockey at the moment.”
But Payette hasn’t given up on recruiting Sarich. “It’s up to Rod. We all get to a point in our career where we need to take a time out. I’ve done it. And I think he wants to concentrate on school and work. But maybe in the future, he will miss the game and I think he still has a lot to offer it.”
Payette said he wasn’t overly surprised that Steelers parted company with Ryan Finnerty at the end of last season. “I’m good friends with Ryan but he had two years and things didn’t quite work out for him. I am happy to see he is in Braehead and he’s been given an opportunity there to do well. But Steelers have hired a good coach in Doug Christiansen and I wish him all the best.”
Payette said that with Steelers’ budget, it would be a big surprise if they weren’t title contenders. “Doug knows what he is doing and I think you’ll see them up near the top. Nottingham look good as well. I’ve played with some of the players they signed this Summer; they will be tough to beat.”
Payette says his own team will be an aggressive, unified outfit. “My players are from Sheffield, we are a blue collar team. They finish every hit, they will dive in front of pucks to stop a goal, they will give everything for their team. When people to come to see us they see a lot more passion in our game. It’s Sheffield guys sticking up for Sheffield guys! A lot of our players grew up together and you can see it on the ice.”