Ice hockey comment: So what’s gone wrong at Sheffield Steelers?

Paul Thompson - wrestling with injuries and goaltending issues this season at Sheffield Steelers
Paul Thompson - wrestling with injuries and goaltending issues this season at Sheffield Steelers
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Suddenly, Sheffield Steelers look rank outsiders in the chase for the League title.

So what has gone wrong - and who is to blame?

From my view-point, the inconsistency that has blighted some of this season has been down to injuries, goaltending, and the quality of available ‘replacement’ players.

Some fans are beginning to turn on coach Paul Thompson.

He’s experienced enough to deal with criticism of his power play, team and management style - and will honestly accept some of it too.

For me, recruitment has been a key issue.

Thompson wanted to upgrade a championship-winning team, but has struggled with the most important player on the ice...the netminder.

Tyler Plante got injured, went out of favour and went on his way, to be replaced by Marek Pinc, who also got hurt, is capable of great things, but not always on a consistent basis. Brad Day is promising but two years away from being a Ben Bowns.

The injuries to Rob Dowd, Guillaume Desbiens and Colton Fretter has effectively robbed the club of a superb Elite League line.

Players brought in, admittedly in haste, to step into their shoes are not the same quality.

I have reservations over Conny Stromberg and Ryan Hayes.

Stromberg has, doubtless, been class act and is a player for the purists, but at 40 his best days are behind him.

Hayes was the League’s top scorer - but hasn’t notched a point in his last three Sheffield games.

If we expect him to light up the league, now, we may be disappointed.

You can disguise the negative effects of injury absences for a game or two.

But the fact is that Steelers have suffered from a ridiculous fixture pile-up of 13 games in January.

Look at their last seven results: 5-4, 3-7, 3-4, 3-2, 3-2, 2-3 and 1-5.

They have either scraped by with one-goal wins or have lost.

There is no rest for a team running on empty: Steelers are in Belfast tonight, looking to avoid a third straight defeat.

I wish them well, but it looks like the Play Offs and the Challenge Cups are Sheffield’s best chance of silverware, this year.

As for the suitability of Paul Thompson as Sheffield Steelers coach: Do you know of a better one?

No,I didn’t think so.