STEELERS goalie John DeCaro today admitted he had ‘signed’ for a Norwegian club a week before his Sheffield employers went into the Play Offs.
The American agreed a deal with Sparta Sarpsborg before the South Yorkshire side went into the ultimately disastrous series with Hull Stingrays.
His own coach Ryan Finnerty had no idea about the deal - and went off, post-season, on a European scouting trip unaware he had lost his goalie.
DeCaro, belatedly, realised he’d acted unreasonably and asked Finnerty to take him back. And the 29-year-old goaltender will be sporting a Steeler kit for the 2012-13 campaign.
Ironically, he will start the League campaign off facing Phil Osaer in the Cardiff Devils net.
Osaer has just left Sparta and was the man who suggested DeCaro take his place there.
Speaking exclusively to The Star from his home in Anchorage, Alaska, the netminder said: “It was a mad crazy few months at the end of last season. My number one priority is to provide for my family and when Sparta offered me a huge pay raise - and they came looking for me rather than the other way round - I felt I had to go for it.
“I signed a week before the Play Offs (he was half way through a two-year deal with Sheffield) but I didn’t tell anybody (in Sheffield) because I didn’t want to rock the boat. Then Finner went off to Italy at the end of the season and I didn’t get to tell him.
“I dreaded it getting out but it is a small world and word got out at the Play Off finals.”
DeCaro was left to brood on his situation and gradually began to realise that he’d made a mistake.
“I felt I had broken my word and let people down. I had jumped at the chance of a lot more money and then I sat back in Alaska and realised I shouldn’t have left in that way. Everything just sort of spiralled into a mess and I decided I had to ask Finner if I could come back to Sheffield.”
The coach agreed to re-instate him in the roster.
Asked if his free degree course at the University of Sheffield had been a factor in his return, the 6ft 3ins netminder replied: “School was a factor but it was not my number one priority.
“I could have finished off my schooling anywhere, although I would have had to pay for it. The main thing is that I felt I had left in the wrong way and let the guys down.”