Family dilemma can be overcome, says Sheffield Steelers coach
Imports coming into the new year Sheffield Steelers squad face leaving their loved ones behind for three months.
The club's business model for a covid secure, 12-week campaign from January will be built around the arrival of individual players rather than families.
Normally, Steelers regard themselves as a family club in terms of both fans and players.
But the shortened season, financed mainly by a £4m offer of funding from the Departure of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, won't provide enough for the normal addition of wives and children.
That, though, won't be a problem, says coach Aaron Fox.
"I have talked to most of last year's guys and I don't think it's going to be a deal-killer for any of them (leaving their family behind) because it is such a short season.
"If I was asking them to do it for eight or nine months then it would be an absolute no-no.
"But I feel like if there is an opportunity to come back and bridge that gap until next year and get some hockey under belt for a few months, that's a very doable option.
"Come into work for three months and then go back home...that's doable."
Fox said he didn't know what the split was likely to be in terms of how many from last year's squad would be coming back and how many new recruits would arrive.
"I have only had soft conversations as finances and budgets need to be worked out," he said.
The coach has spoken recently to Canadian centreman John Armstrong, who has yet to find alternative playing employment.
"We have had a conversation about bringing him back. As I say, it is three months away (from their loves ones.) Those are conversations and decisions they have and make as a family."
Steelers and the other English clubs, Nottingham Panthers, Coventry Blaze, Guildford Flames and Manchester Storm, as well as possibly other EIHL teams in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, are looking at a three-month mini-season which would lead up to a play-off style weekend in Nottingham in March.
The 2019-20 season was robbed of the Play Off season by the arrival of coronavirus.