Simmsey column: Why Jace Coyle’s return is good for Sheffield Steelers

Jace Coyle - Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 10/10/15. Pic: Dean Woolley

Jace Coyle - Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers 10/10/15. Pic: Dean Woolley

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So Jace Coyle is returning to Sheffield.

Unfortunately he won’t be here for this weekend’s games against Nottingham. In fact it may be another week or two before Jace laces up the skates and pulls on his Steelers’ shirt.

Some fans criticised Paul Thompson’s decision to bring in another D man when he is short of two injured centres.

A few things to realise on this issue: 1) Hagos hopefully will be back this weekend. 2) There weren’t any good centres available. 3) Jace Coyle is a player that was always coming back to us after Christmas, we just brought the date forward.

The move makes 100% sense. Steelers will have a spare import once he arrives, something needed in the run-in. Look at how many games we have already lost to injuries, probably more than any other team. Thompson has D men that can play up front, Ratchuk, Fitzgerald, O’Connor but that he hasn’t got any forwards that can drop to the blue line. In the long term bringing in Coyle was the right decision.

I’ve just heard the results of the DOPs ruling regarding the Joey Haddad hit on Levi Nelson. I am speechless. No suspension. Department of Player Safety? Not a chance, Department of Backing Officials Wrong Calls, maybe. The decision like the one ruled on last week about David Rutherford are simply wrong. Last Sunday in Cardiff we had one of the league’s least experienced referee’s calling a game between the first and second place club, a title-influencing game. What makes it worse that sat in the stands was Dean Smith, one of the country’s most experienced referees.

n Next Tuesday at iceSheffield sees an important night. Jonathan Phillips’ testimonial. We have three of these in recent years as we celebrated Mark Thomas, Jason Hewitt and now Phillips’ long service.

I love both Mark and Jason to bits however I feel history will elevate Phillips to a very special place in our club’s history. I expect JP to remain with the club next year and if he does he will break Steelers and the EIHL appearance record in the league. He is already the most successful Steelers’ captain of all time, the national team skipper. This is a special man.

Phillips joined Steelers when the club was baron of home grown talent, he was the first of the new arrivals. His loyalty is unquestionable. It’s easy to think now we are in stable times under the Smith ownership but for me Phillips showed his best leadership in darker times when Norton Lea, Bob Phillips and Paul Ragan were in charge. Difficult times when issues arose that needed the players’ support and trust. Jonathan fought hard for his team mates but also understood the club’s position. I think Mike O’Connor and I will always be grateful to him for his resolve as we mediated between players and ownership.

I believe that the No 20 shirt of Phillips will be the next to hand in the Arena rafters. That is how highly I think of him.

We have been blessed with great leaders and captains, Shudra, Wilson, Darling, Laniel, Vial and Goertzen.

Jonathan Phillips though will go down in history as our greatest, most capped and most decorated.

I trust we will all support his big day on Tuesday at iceSheffield, turn up in our thousands to thank him. Player, Captain, Family Member. Top Bloke.

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