Ben O'Connor will want to 'stick it' to Sheffield Steelers
Sheffield Steelers are more than aware that Ben O'Connor will be determined to wreak some damage on them in the upcoming season.
The club and player parted company after the Challenge Cup final, with some degree of exasperation on both sides.
Rumours continue to link O'Connor with Cardiff Devils, a team that will rival Sheffield, Nottingham Panthers and Belfast Giants for the league title in 2021-22.
Some think it is only a matter of time before the Welsh announce the arrival of a skater who scored 317 points in 380 games for Sheffield.
Steelers' official Dave Simms said: "The word on the street seems to be that Ben's off to Wales and Cardiff. If that's true then good luck to him.
"There isn't anyone at our club who doesn't wish Ben well. As we said over 12 months ago when he left he has been a great servant here and we thank for everything he helped us achieve whilst wearing orange."
Simms admitted it would feel "strange seeing him in a different uniform."
But he added: "These things happen in sport and both the club and he have gone in different directions.
"I'm sure he will want to stick it to us and in return we will want to make sure he doesn't and we have the upper hand.
"It's what makes sport interesting and us so passionate about it.
"Everyone at the club wishes Ben well but we are all looking forward to seeing this new and exciting team that Aaron is putting together."
Simms stressed: "Our team looks strong. The blue line looks strong and we move on.
"We've lost stars before, favourite players before and still gone on to win championships. I have a feeling we will do the same this coming season."
Steeldogs will be sorry to see the 32-year-old Great Britain star leave Sheffield - he played for them in two tournaments after leaving Steelers.
Co-owner Ali Mcree commented: "Ben was the utmost professional when he came to join us for the Spring Cup and Streaming Series."
He said the player had been determined to get some ice time in, to prepare him for the World Championships.
"Ben fitted in so well having known and played with most of our older players on the team as juniors. There was a lot of respect for Ben stepping down to our level.
"He was heavily involved in special teams' preparation and practice and brought another level of professionalism to our organisation.
"Our younger players like Charlie Thompson, especially, had to punch themselves a little having such a special player in the room.
"But the connection and friendships made with Benny is something that we would love to re-visit and welcome in the future when Ben looks to step down from pro hockey or take a step aside for his family."
Cree will also be interested in seeing how Steeldogs' 18-year-old Jack Brammer performs with his new Swedish club Malungs IF.
"Jack has played with such passion since a young age," said the club official.
"He really has a winning desire and can use his build well to play a physical game.
"Jack's stepped up to the mark, filling many spots and roles when asked by the coaches and he is willing to listen and learn - unlike some other upcoming young development players that maybe bring an ego.
"I'm sure Jack will work hard on his fitness and skating ability aplenty as part of the Swedish league but we will certainly be backing his development as a club and hope that he gets the rewards he deserves."