Steelers players prepare to be Tango’d

Sheffield Steelers new Coach Doug Christiansen is announced at a press conference at Sheffield Arena by owner Tony Smith
Sheffield Steelers new Coach Doug Christiansen is announced at a press conference at Sheffield Arena by owner Tony Smith
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HE’D bought an orange tie - or rather his new best friend had.

Sheffield Steelers official Dave Simms had whipped into Meadowhall to sponsor Doug Christiansen’s first purchase as new coach.

Christiansen, a polished, educated American, wanted to present the right image and immediately fit in as a new Steeler leader. But that doesn’t mean he will embrace all that presently makes up the Sheffield Steelers.

With a hint of ruthlessness, the 34-year-old graduate of New York’s Union College, implied there would be a partial-cull of those recruited by his predecessor Ryan Finnerty.

“No doubt Sheffield are an outstanding team but that was a team signed by somebody else” he said.

“I’ve not had opportunity to speak to many of those players. I know the (Steeler) GB players, (he’s national team asst coach) what they are about and the culture they have but - and no disrespect - I want to have my own players and my own stamp, not other people’s players. They may be outstanding but (keeping them all) that does not allow me to build my own team from scratch.

“I want to bring in as many of my own players as I can. That does not necessarily mean players that I have had before but ones that I have researched and done due diligence.

“That doesn’t mean just the background checks from a second hand source. I do expect significant changes.”

Additionally, in a phrase that may send a chill down some Steeler spines, he added: “The most imports I have returned to Belfast is two; I am not scared of reshaping a team.” He said re-signing existing players can stretch budgets, given pay-rise demands. It was wiser to see what current players were earning and then “look at the marketplace.”

He conceded there were players signed by Finnerty - who himself is a contender for a job at Braehead Clan - that he’d “love to have in my team.”

The press conference stalled slightly when questions were asked about how quickly his Sheffield appointment was finalised. Christiansen said he’d received an emailed job offer on Monday morning a few hours after his then-team Belfast Giants had lost the Play Off final to Nottingham - the rivals he has vowed to “hunt down” now.

Asked if he’d been appointed without a interview, he replied that his six years career in the Elite League had provided all the answers the club had needed.