David Simms' Sheffield Steelers ice hockey column: Time for Season of the Fox to begin
The waiting is over, the season is just days away and I can’t wait.
On Monday I met the guys for the first time at our induction day. I think this is my 35th or 36th season and induction day and I get as excited now as I did way back then.You start with new hope as you meet players for the first time. I know many of you have been down to ICE Sheffield and watch some of the training.This weekend the Steelers take on HK Poprad in two exhibition games. Saturday is already SOLD-OUT and Sunday is very close.Speaking with Aaron Fox he plans to play both goalies on both nights, 30 minutes each. What was also interesting was that he doesn’t plan to settle lines this early.
“I’ll just make up four evenly balanced lines and roll them,” he told me. “Everyone will get a fair chance. I want guys to be rewarded for their summer work and get as much opportunity as each other.”Off the ice work continues. The new improved dressing room area is now complete.
Only three years ago the Steelers had a single dressing room. Now they have a dry room and kitchen, the dressing room with showers, hot tub and cold baths. Off that is now a stretch room with the bikes there as well.
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The doctor and physio have their own rooms directly off and a new extended weights area is located off that. It’s proper. It’s ultra professional and it’s as good as you can get anywhere.Steelers and the Arena have made this happen. As we sign better players from better leagues the demands on us as a club are higher. We have responded. The Arena found the space and Tony Smith found the cash to develop this area. I walk in now and am so proud at how far our club has come. You can’t help but be impressed. Our guys will want for nothing. The clubs fitness tests were carried out on Monday, reports back from strength and conditioning coach Danny Mawer is that the boys are in top condition. That’s good because head coach Aaron Fox has the boys on the ice twice a day right now as well as gym work outs. There is no rest at this time of the year.What can we expect this weekend and next? I really don’t know and go into this pre-season with a clear mind. I couldn’t care less if we win lose or draw this pre season, just as long as we stay healthy and are ready to go come the 31st August against Nottingham in the first Challenge Cup game.Of course we will all look at Martin St Pierre I would assume, he has been the star signing of the summer, you can’t help but be excited by him. The goalies are crucial and I really like our tandem. Youth and experience, wow what experience Tomas Duba has.With all the new recruits it’s easy to forget the returning players, a fourth season for John Armstrong, easy to forget what a big part of the club John is.
Eberle and Johnson returning too. Our core of Brits are the Steelers DNA, Jonno, Benny, Dowdy and Davey are our heartbeat. Young Cole Shudra returning, the little rats of Brown, Griffin and Alex Graham – those young guys have to bring the stories to the room, we have an older room and those boys will need the entertainment – the kids have to bring that.For the second year running we have changed the roster massively – we were equally as excited last year but as we know it didn’t work out.
We have faith again this campaign – On Saturday we go again, see you there.