ASHLEY Tait is leaving Sheffield Steelers, writes Bob Westerdale.
I understand that the veteran Great Britain skater, who has served the club with distinction for five seasons, is looking for a new berth following the arrival of new coach Doug Christiansen. Rumours of his exit are likely to be confirmed this week, but exactly where the 37-year-old wing will turn up is open to debate.
Scott Neil, owner of Edinburgh Capitals, said many teams would love to recruit Tait, whether as a player or player coach.
“The question will be about who could afford him” said Neil, who patrolled the wing at Sheffield himself from 1993-7. You would probably only be looking at Nottingham Panthers, Belfast Giants or maybe one of the wealthier English Premier teams.
“Generally, good British players can demand considerably more money than they would if we were operating in an open market. A lot of club would want Ashley; he is a good professional who can still deliver, but the reality is that they wouldn’t approach him because of what he’s been earning. It is hard to say what he’ll do.”
Tait had 10 seasons at Panthers before joining Coventry and then Steelers in 2007.
While Tait is leaving, Steelers are to retain another British winger, Jason Hewitt.
Coach Doug Christiansen has told Hewitt that he requires more of the old “Hewey” after signing the 29 year centre to a new one year contract.
“We need Hewey to play like he did two years ago for Ben Simon” said Christiansen.
“I need him to be my lock down third line centre and play a similar role for me as Mark Garside did in Belfast.
“We need him to be abrasive and play the game like he is a piece of sandpaper. I’m confident in him and expect him to deliver the role that I ask of him”
Hewitt will be returning to Sheffield for a ninth season and excepts that last year he wasn’t at his best.
“Last season didn’t go the way any of us wanted, it was an uncomfortable week or two since Doug took the job waiting to see if I was in his plans. I want to play here, I want to be a part of a winning Steelers team.
“Doug has made it very clear what he wants from him and how I am expected to play. I think I respond well to that type of coaching, just like I did when playing for Ben a couple of years ago. I know that if I don’t deliver I will be sitting on the bench and not playing. I want to play, I’m hungry to play a lot of minutes and motivated to show Doug he was right to bring me back”