Sheffield Steelers: Q&A with departing Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas
Mark Thomas
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Defenceman Mark Thomas has ended his ten-year stint on Steelers blue line, having signed for his former team Manchester Phoenix.

The 31-year-old skater takes with him a wealth of memories, many of them entwined with winning major trophies for a variety of Sheffield coaches.

Jason Hewitt

Jason Hewitt

But Thomas will be keeping in touch with the team which he joined from London Racers in the 2005-6 season.

Here, he takes part in a question and answer session with Steelers writer Bob Westerdale.

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Bob Westerdale: How did you and the rest of the players feel about Gerad Adams losing his coaching job?

Jeff Legue

Jeff Legue

Mark Thomas: It’s always hard when someone loses their job, he was a good coach, that was successful over the last two years, but the club wanted to go in a different direction and do what they think is best for the Sheffield Steelers.

BW: What impression do you get of Paul Thompson as a coach, following your time at Great Britain under him?

MT: He is a very organised coach, that is well prepared for every situation. It was fun to play for him with the national team.

BW: Even though you won the League, was there a tinge of disappointment the way the season ended, with the double slipping out of your grasp?

Jonathan Phillips

Jonathan Phillips

MT: Anytime you win something it’s a successful year, the league is the biggest prize in England and the most difficult to win. It was disappointing to lose in the two finals but the league is a lot more competitive than a few years ago, which means it’s a lot harder to win everything. All teams can beat each other on any given night and the league has become a lot more competitive.

BW: Jason Hewitt gets his testimonial year this season; can you describe his contribution to Steelers over the years and when was his best season?

MT: There isn’t a more deserving player to get a testimonial, Hewy has done everything ever asked of him for the Steelers, he played hurt from pretty much day one of last season. What he brings on and off the ice is something that will be very hard to replace. His best season was probably (coach) Ben Simon’s year, he scored some big goals and the one against Belfast to help us win the league is one that will go down in history.

BW: Do you think Steelers can make a credible impact on the Champions League?

Rod Sarich

Rod Sarich

MT: I hope so, obviously the competition is at a very high standard but they can go there with no real pressure, just play and enjoy it.

BW: Who was your favourite playing partner on the blue line over the decade?

MT: It’s hard one this, but I’ll have to say Roddy Sarich; as I’ve played with him the longest. He is good at everything, he makes everything look so easy.

BW: Overall, who was the best player to wear a Steelers shirt during your time and why?

MT: That another tough one, Jeff Legue has been the best player I’ve played with but I have to mention Hewy, Jonathan Phillips and Roddy. It’s not always about how skilled you are but what other qualities you bring to the team. Those four guys have been the backbone of the Steelers during my time and a major reason why the team has been successful.

BW: How much do you know about the current Manchester Phoenix side and can they be title contenders again?

MT: I know a few of the boys as I’ve trained with them over the last few summers. They have won the league a few times but had a tough time with injuries last season, so this year will be looking to bounce back and with the team Tony Hand (coach) is trying to put together I’m sure we will be contending.

# One of Steelers most offensive players has quit the club for Belfast Giants.

Mike Forney scored 43 times in 69 league, cup and play off games and was a perfect linemate for Mathieu Roy and Colton Fretter, both of whom are returning to Sheffield.

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