MATT STEPHENSON didn’t like seeing a close friend, in Colin Shields, walk away from the Sheffield Steelers’ dressing room.
He will miss his comradeship off the ice - and skills on it.
But Stephenson says the hole in the line-up may not necessarily make Steelers a poorer team. It will just part of a change in outlook and playing philosophy.
“Nobody wanted to see Colin go” admitted the defenceman. “But as to whether it makes us a weaker team, that’s not something we are asking ourselves. It might change our dynamic but whether its better or worse we are not going to know immediately. Maybe we should evaluate that in February.
“People have their own reasons for moving on, there is life outside of hockey - people don’t always understand that. There are other things going on in people’s heads than just hockey. Guys have personal reasons.”
Asked if Shields’ decision was damaging to team morale, Stephenson replied: “I can’t say that, this is hockey. We have all been in (dressing) rooms and seen people come and go. In the Coast, (Idaho Steelheads; East Coast Hockey League) I saw three or four different players move out in a few days. You get immune to it.”
Stephenson believes Steelers will be more a dogged and determined side, than one laden with skills and flair.
“The team is going to have a different look that what we started out with” he said. “We are more blue collar now, our team will be more rough and tough. We are going to be hard to play against and show up every night. We still have skill guys but in order to win in the league you have to play with grit.”
Of new players Chris Frank and Simon Ferguson, the Canadian added: “Our latest changes are for the best. They are good team guys and we have come together. We were a pretty close room before and now we’re even closer, guys are willing to go to battle for each other.”
Sheffield Steeldogs have released ex Steelers wing Derek Campbell, saying they needed to “change things up” and “make relevant changes and prepare for a push in the playoffs.”