Bulldog Jason Hewitt back playing in Sheffield - and he's targeting Leeds

The 'British Bulldog' is bringing his snap and growl brand of ice hockey back to Sheffield after signing a two-year deal in the city.

By Bob Westerdale
Monday, 2nd August 2021, 6:00 am
Jason Hewitt, typical confrontational pose with Sheffield Steelers. Picture: Dean Woolley
Jason Hewitt, typical confrontational pose with Sheffield Steelers. Picture: Dean Woolley

Jason Hewitt who earned his nickname during 698 feisty games with Steelers, has signed with Sheffield Steeldogs.

And already in his sights are the Leeds Knights - who also tried to secure his services during the Summer.

The Waterthorpe-based forward will be 38 when the new NIHL season starts, which suggests he will end his playing career in his adopted city.

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Jason Hewitt in action for Hull. Pic by Dean Woolley

He certainly won't be pulling on the skates again for Hull Pirates, where he's spent the last four years.

Hull have temporarily dropped out of the league because of rink problems.

Hewitt had been player-coach there since 2017 and regrets the way his connection with them ended.

Referring to his new Steeldogs' contract, he said: "I wasn't looking to move in the first place, but with everything that has gone on, it is great to have something secure.

Jason Hewitt in action for Steelers, Pic by Dean Woolley

"I don't want to be bouncing around for the years left in me so I am happy, but yes it's unfortunate for Hull.

"I enjoyed it there. But it was a rubbish way to end."

Hewitt played for Steeldogs in the Covid-proofed Spring Cup and the Streaming Series and liked what he saw.

"I knew the guys there, we'd had some good battles over the years.

"They are all super-close. They buy into the cause and I have got a lot of respect for that having come up against it over the years; they lay it on the line for each other."

Hewitt was a perennial title winner in the 10 years with Steelers and his family love the city.

"The conversation with Ali Cree (Dogs' co-owner) was easy, they'd been respectful and patient over Hull's situation - they could have been signing other players."

Hewitt said that Dogs' reputation had endured a battering a few years ago, but that was now water under the bridge.

"A lot of people used to associate Steeldogs with negative things, but it is a completely different organisation now.

"I am going there to help change things. We started that process with playing well in the two (lockdown) tournaments and we want to build on that."

Leeds Knights, who will be coached by former Steelers' boss Dave Whistle, had sounded Hewitt out about a role there.

"They are a new organisation that is showing big intent by bringing in 'Whis.' We did speak but it was pretty brief" said the player.

"I am not someone who ever bounced around on teams, I was keen to play in Sheffield because it is home.

"When I got a taste of training and being home 10 minutes later, it was tough to go back to travelling.

"On a weekly basis at Hull, I'd be travelling 12 hours, you can't buy that time back. Now I will have more time with my family while playing the game I still love locally."

While Hewitt is settled, he is awaiting news of the fate of long-time Steeler team-mate and current training partner Ben O'Connor, who could be snapped up by EIHL rivals Cardiff Devils or Nottingham Panthers.

"In my view, Cardiff fits better there" he said. "It would suit him that style that they play, although they do have a new coach.

"He is an unreal player and he's never going to lose that skill, he'll just get more responsible and better as he gets better."

Asked if he was disappointed that O'Connor was leaving Steelers, Hewitt replied: "Yes, a little bit, I don't know the full story but it's unfortunate because it was his hometown team.

"It looked like a match made in heaven for the rest of his career but that's not how it worked out.

"Whatever has happened, it seems he has left with a bad taste. It will be interesting when his new team comes to Sheffield to see what he does."