How versatile players will be a key to Sheffield Steelers’ success this coming season

Aaron Fox is pleased that many of the players he is inheriting on Sheffield Steelers' roster are capable of being a "Jack of all trades."

By Bob Westerdale
Monday, 10 June, 2019, 23:00

The ice hockey strategist is weighing up how players from last year's squad can accommodate with - and flourish alongside - his newly-signed skaters.

And forward John Armstrong is certainly one who can fit that bill, says the coach.

John Armstrong: picture by Hayley Roberts

"I know 'Army' is predominantly a centre, I plan on using him as a centre next year, the way things are working out right now" said the American.

"But it is also good that he played wing with me in (Medvescak) Zagreb last year and if I have a centre that comes in and can only play centre it is nice to be able to push a guy to the wing, if I need to."

He said a knowledgeable player like Armstrong is strong at face offs and disciplined when it comes to defensive responsibilities.

While Cole Shudra was another example of a player that can adapt to varying positions - "he is one of those guys who can play centre, he can play wing, he can play on the back end as well. So there is some good versatility there.

Jonathan Phillips in action at MKL

"The guys I am looking at signing right now, they are also multiple-position guys, some of them, so it is nice to be able to have."

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The team boss added: "I know Dowdy (Robert Dowd) is predominantly a right wing but has played left wing in the past as well.

"It is good to be able to have guys that can play all over the ice, depending on the rest of the guys we bring in.

Fox said he could "get on board" with Jonathan Phillips as a fourth line centre, too.

"I know he is a responsible, two-way guy that can probably play in the middle for sure.

"Aaron (Johnson) has played on both sides, I think he prefers the left side, I think Jonas (Liwing) can play on both sides, prefers the right side.

"Benny (O'Connor) is more of a leftie - but you'd be surprised how flexible some guys are when they need to be."

Fox's first new signing Marc-Olivier Vallerand can play both wing.

"He prefers the right side, he is a left shot but he prefers playing on his off-wing."