THERE isn’t the time or the desire for the city’s top ice hockey team to turn into the Sheffield Sulkers.
The Steelers’ club, from ownership down to volunteer workers, were stunned this week when “unhappy” forward Colin Shields declared he was leaving the team. None were more surprised than coach Ryan Finnerty.
He says: “It is still baffling. It all happened so quick. But we don’t have the time to sit here sulking about it. We are going through a difficult stretch and we need to focus on winning some games.”
Inevitably, question marks are being asked about how the club is run. Last season, Finnerty dumped winger import Colt King as the season drew to its climax. This season he has done the same with Cory Pecker. Danny Wood has been consigned to EPL side Sheffield Steeldogs. And NHL lock-out winger Tom Sestito came in for a cameo series of 17 games before leaving.
Finnerty stands by his judgement.
“Pecker came in 25 pounds out of shape, showing no respect for the team or the League. We always knew Tommy would be in and out. Danny is very much a prospect who needs more ice time and we will be having at our club again, I’m sure. And I’d do what I did with King all over again, in a heartbeat.”
The Shields factor is a different matter, though.
The coach said: “Players always think there is something better out there than they have got. But you never quit. If you have made a commitment, you don’t jump ship and leave the team high and dry, especially when things aren’t going well.
“I tried harder with Colin than anyone else to get him going, moving him from centre to play on a wing with Jeff Legue and trying him on the point. If that wasn’t good enough, then I don’t have any more. There is no better here than Legue.
“I had discussed Colin’s form with him. I thought he wasn’t winning the one-on-ones and not going to the net and the hard areas. He had to come in from the perimeter areas. I didn’t think he was battling - but it is quite possible he thought he was.
“But we don’t have time to sulk or figure out what went wrong.”