If it went a little dark in Sheffield this week, don’t worry. It wasn’t the weather. It wasn’t clouds over head – it was probably just Steelers’ new signing Joonas Ronnberg walking by.
My lord is he a big boy, remember Dolph Lundgren in Rocky 4 – well that’s who he reminds me of.
Jonathan Phillips said to me: “Simmsey, he has a pole vault as a stick” and you do giggle when you see all the sticks lined up, Ronnberg’s are the easiest to find as they stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Paul Thompson said he wanted a little more size at the back end, well Ronnberg certainly brings that. “I didn’t see too many getting past him tonight” Thompson said to me after Tuesday’s second day of training camp.
Ronnberg has presence when he walks into a room. Of course easily noticeable but many big men don’t have presence, this one does. He has a steely look in his eyes, a man whose face tells you that he has been there and done it and that he is ready to go on and do it again.
Mike Ware was a tall man but was he a really big man? I’m not to sure. (Editor: Yes he was.)
I think Joonas is a combination of Mike’s height and Dion Darling’s build – now that’s a proper big man.
I left Monday’s Steelers induction day with one word most prominent in my head: “Men.”
We look a serious, older, mature group of men. We are bigger than last year. Marquardt is another big unit. He has the Guillaume Desbiens shoes to fill but if anyone can do that then Marquardt is that man.
I had a feeling, even on day one, of us being all about the business. Players like Mark Matheson and Tim Wallace not being here for the ride, not playing out their careers, but being here to do a job.
This weekend it all starts for real. Two home games, Saturday and Sunday, at iceSheffield against Swedish side Sodertalje. What a test that will be.
One interesting quote for you and again it came from the captain Phillips. It was when I asked him about training camp and suggested that this was the first time ever, in the club’s history that we had had a proper four week camp. Jonno replied: “We just have to remember that. It’s not about killing ourselves for this weekend. We just have to be two per cent better today than we were yesterday throughout the camp. Just building to peak at the right time which will be the first weekend of the regular season”
Sodertalje will give Phillips and the Steelers side a real test. They aren’t coming here on holiday. They are coming to practise and play hard. They have 500 plus game NHL’ers in their line up. No such thing as a warm up game for them.
I’m interested in the way pre season goes. As I said earlier we have never had the chance to prepare as well as we will this year. Normally a week on the ice and a couple of games, then head to the Champions League. Now it’s four weeks at home in Sheffield, ice almost every day during that period. This is what we used to hear about other clubs in Europe doing. This is how far Steelers have come in recent years.
We have outstanding players and coaches. We will be prepared and we are as committed a bunch as you could wish for. This season will be different. We have no divine right to win anything but we are the Steelers and therefore we have expectation because winning is what we have a tradition of doing.
Winning isn’t a dirty word. It’s what we all want to do. It’s what we will be aiming to do every game this season.