One that got away – but Sheffield Steelers’ coach knows his numbers

Aaron Fox is a number cruncher.

By Bob Westerdale
Friday, 21 June, 2019, 12:34
Steve Lee playing for GB

His close-season work for Sheffield Steelers appears to be marking him out as an astute hockey accountant as he evaluates the comparative worth of players on the market.

There will be players he'd like to see in an orange shirt - but only if that piece fits precisely into the jigsaw budget he's been given.

If not - then it's thanks, but no thanks, from the head coach.

Hull-born defenceman Steve Lee fits into that category.

It would have been nice marketing move to have had another Yorkshireman in the squad, to join Davey Phillips, Cole Shudra, Kieran Brown and 16-year-old apprentice Alex Graham.

And there would also have been a certain karma involved in taking Lee from Nottingham Panthers, the club that recently drafted ex-Steelers Mark Matheson and Tim Wallace into key positions.

Steve Lee

Lee, at his prime at 28 years of age and available on the back of a sound performance in Great Britain's World Championships, this week signed for Guildford Flames, who had had him on their books before.

But Fox accepted that situation with grace.

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He told The Star: "We spoke to him and his agent, as an organisation. I did have an interest and was looking into him until I found out what the price was, and that was the end of that."

That indicates that better value is available elsewhere, to join the likes of Phillips, Ben O'Connor, Aaron Johnson, Jordan Griffin and Jonas Liwing on the blue line.

Lee was a 10-year loyal servant to Nottingham.

Actually, the best time to have signed him was probably the Summer of 2008, when he left his native East Yorkshire for Guildford, for the first time.

But then Steeler coach Dave Matsos didn't go for him - and didn't do badly without him, either, winning the League that year.

Guildford performed well against Sheffield last season, turfing Sheffield out of the Challenge Cup and putting five past them on three occasions.

“The Flames had a great season last year,” Lee recognised, “and it’s a great sign to see a large portion of that team already signed up.

"Hopefully I can help the team add to the success they earned last season. I can’t wait to meet the guys and get started" Lee told Guildford's website.

Their head coach Paul Dixon remarked: "It is a pretty big signing for us to be able to get a GB player of his level into our lineup."

*Former Steeler Andreas Valdix has joined Gyergyói HK in Romania.