SHEFFIELD’S two top player-coaches are working together to form a new partnership between the clubs...and put behind them some the fractured relationships of the past.
Steelers boss Ryan Finnerty and his counterpart at the Steeldogs Andre Payette are seeking greater co-operation between the EIHL and the EPL clubs.
Steelers may be reacting to recent activity which has seen Steeldogs working with Elite League rivals Hull Stingrays.
“It’s crazy that we are 500 yards apart yet seem to have few links,” said Finnerty. “We have ice most days that their improving players can take advantage of, they have some of the best up and coming youngsters in the game that can practice with us, even play with us when the schedules don’t clash. Andre and I both realise how much benefit we both could have for each other. Steelers players should help out with all of the teams below us in Sheffield hockey. Kids in Sheffield want to be Steelers and the Steelers players should be there to lend a hand when they can.”
Payette agreed: “There should be a natural progression through the juniors to the Steeldogs and then on to the Steelers, We should work together for the greater good. It’s seems crazy we were having this conversation, it should have happened years ago – it’s just common sense. We are not re-inventing the wheel here.
“I have guys like Duncombe, Wood and Morgan who could play at the Elite level, these guys can go and do a job for the Steelers if we aren’t playing. But also below them is a great group of younger guys champing at the bit for a chance to train and play with Steelers. If those guys can see that if they work hard there is a natural progression then that benefits everyone. Then the kids in the junior section can see if they work hard they get to play for the Steeldogs and then that may lead to the Steelers as well. I’m sure we can get something officially agreed.”
Steelers’ owner Tony Smith also wants closer links with all hockey clubs at iceSheffield saying: “We can have our own ownership and groups but it surely just makes sense that we all work together, help each other. The start for us is working with the Steeldogs.
“I have plans to meet with Shane Smith at the Steeldogs and work something out formerly with him.
“Having spoken with Andre I don’t think this will be too difficult. I want our players working with the kids in the juniors, I don’t want to run the juniors but I do want to work with them and I do want them to take advantage of the players we have here and the experience they have.”