Dave Simms' Steelers Column: Why this is a big year for Luke Ferrara
There is a fair bit of pressure on young Luke Ferrara this coming season; maybe the first time in his Steelers career that there has been '˜expectance'.
Luke quietly slipped into the Steelers roster on a part-time, two way basis a couple of years ago and then last season, under Paul Thompson, he saw his ice time increase as he fitted into the team in a full time role.
Now in season 2016-17 Ferrara, who signed a new two year deal this summer, will be expected to contribute. In reality he has taken the job of the club’s longest serving player Jason Hewitt.
Now Ferrara is no Bulldog, but he isn’t a poodle either and all expectations are that he will deliver too.
All summer Luke has been making his way up from the family home in Peterborough to train around the clock with the club’s strength and conditioning coach, Danny Mawer. Ferrara is bigger, stronger and faster; the three demands of coach Thompson.
The Steelers boss knew when he allowed Hewitt out of the door that he had a ready made replacement in Ferrara. He liked the young man from the first day of last season’s camp.
This season is a massive chance for Luke. He knows with many teams playing four lines he will get his ice time, he will get his special team opportunities.
In fact, opportunity is all that Ferrara needs; on and off the ice. He has already shown that, given the minutes, he can produce; he has an offensive eye.
He goes to the important areas where the puck will shortly be. Luke Ferrara can score goals, can put up points. He is a modern day player for the modern game.
Ferrara has another huge duty, more of an obligation as a British player in the Steelers team. That’s inside the room. Captain Jonathan Phillips, in the last two years, has lost two of his personalities; two of his inside the room lieutenants.
There is no more Mark Thomas and Jason Hewitt, and there is room inside that room for another personality. The Steelers room is no place for shrinking violets. There is a place, however, for Luke Ferrara.
At the end of this two-year contract in 2018, Luke will sit down with the club hopefully to sign the biggest and most important deal of his life. He will then be in his prime, at his prime.
If Luke does as I expect; follows the leads of those great British players he has already seen and worked with; is as smart as I think he is, then he will very shortly join Messrs Phillips, O’Connor and Dowd as the four home-bred leaders of this great club. With huge expectations comes great responsibility.
I’m confident Master Luke will grow, deliver and be one of our leaders for many years to come.