Aaron Fox: 'We can build a Sheffield Steelers squad in three weeks'
Aaron Fox says he can build a Sheffield Steelers' squad in just three weeks - even if a large proportion of his existing roster has moved on elsewhere.
The coach is still confident the EIHL will be able to salvage some form of tournament, some time in the new year, as long as coronavirus is on the retreat.
This week, defenceman James Bettauer agreed terms with a second division team in Germany, and players like Tanner Eberle, Marco Vallerand and Marek Troncinsky are also attracting interest.
If there is a large-scale Steeler exodus, it won't faze Fox, though.
He said: "We could build a team in three weeks if we needed to, I am not bothered about that, even if players had moved on.
"We would put a competitive team together, that is not my concern at all.
"The issue is some of the "up front things" that you don't want to overspend on; like how far in advance to book a flight, instead of paying £2,000 for example (looking for a cheaper rate) - those are the things you'd like to have a little bit of leeway on.
"I don't know how many (EIHL) teams have given apartments back - can you find enough apartments (for players) in four weeks? To me, those things are the harder questions that some teams might have."
Bettauer's decision to leave was ultimately influenced by the effects of the pandemic in the UK, although it is fair to say he had a mixed debut year with Sheffield.
A wrist injury saw the defenceman out of the line up for around six weeks. When he returned he played some fourth line hockey, was tried on the wing, and became a healthy scratch on several occasions.
Fox said: "The team he is going to is a good solid team, they may start ahead of the (first flight) DEL, but there are still a ton of question marks."
The coach said they had originally legislated for Bettauer to complete a second term of his Steeler contract.
"I feel we could have got more out of James than we did last year, with the injury and the way we used him.
"He didn't get off to a great start. And then some other guys came in and took some roles away from him."
He said, unlike other Sheffield players, Bettauer had been confident he could get another job in Europe.
"He wasn't worried; he has that German passport - he has got a free pass."
Fox said he did not know exactly how many other EIHL teams would commit to a tournament starting in January or February.
"I have heard that it is more than five, now, but you don't really know until someone has to make a yes or no decision."