David Simms Sheffield Steelers ice hockey column: James Bettauer really is some signing
The clocks are counting down and the signings keep coming, since last week Aaron Fox has confirmed the arrival of defenseman James Bettauer from the DEL.
By this time next week I think the entire blueline will be complete with another top end signing.That then would only leave a couple more signatures to complete the entire roster, I’m pretty sure that Aaron knows the name of the players he wants to fill those roles.It’s been some summer upheaval hasn’t it? Many changes, lots of in’ and outs and I’m sure we haven’t finished with the moves that will see our great club back and ready to challenge once again.I like the balance we have right now. There is some pure offense with the likes of Vallerand, Connolly, Dowd and DeLuca, there are some seriously experienced players like Phillips, Davies, Armstrong and Lemtyugov as well as youth, spit and vinegar from Eberle, Whistle, Shudra and Brown.The back end looks stronger too. Benny, Davey and Aaron Johnson all return, the three new members of the blue line were always going to be three key signings. Bettauer and Liwing have already increased the quality, I think you will all be pleased with the final name filling that defensive core. I like our D, I like it very much. Chemistry will again be the key and Aaron hasn’t long to gel all these new faces together, on paper this team looks great. Those three exhibition games might end up being three of the most important games we play all year. Who will end up our go-to guys? Only so many can play on the power-play, who will earn those spots? I guess it’s the same question every year. The difference with our league to others in Europe is that you have to hit the ground running in the Elite League as it’s the league championship that is the biggest goal. You can’t win the league in September and October, but you can lose it.Cardiff and Belfast have Champions League early on, how I miss the CHL. As we have found out ourselves the CHL can be a double edge sword. On one hand you are prepared so much better when you start league play after opposing these serious hockey clubs in that competition before you start your own domestic league.But, and there is always a but, those games catch up on you eventually. Last year the Steelers (and the Panthers) couldn’t take advantage of that and let Belfast and Cardiff just walk away with the title race unchallenged. That can’t happen again, and it won’t. I’m confident we will be ready and prepared to challenge.The signing of Bettauer is an interesting one. Here we have a player with many years left on his career. He plays in the DEL, a superior league in terms of quality and pay. Yet, he leaves there with his German passport to come to the UK and Sheffield, that’s some capture. The signing as I am sure you have read elsewhere wouldn’t have been possible without the University of Sheffield, how they came through for us.James had the option of several teams all offering school inbuilt with their contract offer. No university though matched the quality and reputation of the University of Sheffield. The whole relationship with the University can’t be underestimated. I remember when we started, Steve Munn was our first player using the MBA programme, right away that ability to attract quality people as well as players paid off. The likes of Munn, Doyle, Fretter, Kohn and Eddy etc have ensured the best of the best came our way to Sheffield. James Bettauer being the latest.Just five weekends remain before we all head to ICE Sheffield for the games against HK Poprad on the 17th and 18th August – remember all tickets are just £10 to see the new team for the first time.The week after we head back to the Fly DSA Arena for the game against MAC Budapest – all tickets for that game are just £5.Talking of fixtures, the leagues schedule is now agreed and will be published shortly. The Steelers will once again have a double header away in Belfast but not on the same weekend as in previous years. We also head to Scotland on a weekend away in Fife and Dundee. All that information will be with you shortly.Get the gardening done now, only five weekends of free time ahead of you.