STEELERS’ owner Paul Ragan has made it clear to new coach Ryan Finnerty that the 2011-12 team must entertain just as much next season as last - despite a big fall in player salaries.
Ragan points out his other club, Cardiff Devils, finished immediately next to the champions in the table last season, on a substantially smaller budget.
“Sheffield were joint top with a club spending 35 per cent less - and that was a team captained by Ryan,” he said.
“Now Ryan is in Sheffield I confidently expect him to provide the same level.
“Ryan is a gritty, little fighter, similar to Ben Simon (former Steelers coach) and has been mentored by Gerad Adams (Cardiff coach) who has advised him well.”
Steelers and other Elite League teams are supposed to observe a £7,000-plus a week salary budget next season.
“The Sheffield budget will be significantly more controlled than last year,” Ragan said. “We did overspend then and, to be frank, in a totally unsustainable way.”
Of last year’s wage-cap busting salary levels, he commented: “I think I could have coached a league-winning team with some of the money spent last year. Money is not unlimited, it was no way to run a business.”
But would everybody in hockey’s top flight adhere to the wage cap?
“They tell me they will,” replied the tycoon. “I have been talking to Cardiff players and the financial situation is tough all over Europe.
“But we have got new players and Sheffield will play with real bite and determination.”