Only happy campers need apply for Sheffield Steelers

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NEIL Abel hopes to see a better dressing room chemistry among next season’s Sheffield Steelers’ group.

Last year’s bench coach said the class of 2011-12 appeared to be a cohesive, happy unit until results started to go against them.

When that happened negative voices from a minority of skaters started to impact on the others, he revealed.

Asked if he enjoyed the campaign - which ended without silverware - Abel said: “Yes and no. Some of the boys were hard work at the death, to tell the truth.

“It was a good dressing room for the early part but there are always one or two who start to have an influence you don’t like to see. Hence, perhaps, some of the results we had.

“Colt King, for instance, told me well before he left the club that he didn’t plan on returning and my personal view, generally, is that sometimes players don’t give a toss if they are in that position.

“I have always believed that if you are under contract you should at least put the effort in.”

Head coach Ryan Finnerty chose to get rid of King before the Play-offs - a controversial move at the time which triggered resentment among some fans.

“We definitely had the personnel to have won that competition, with or without King,” said Abel. “King being sent home was a tough decision to make but one I supported as, generally, you cannot keep a player if you think he is getting bigger than the club.

“As a player I liked King. He could have been one of the all-time favourites in Sheffield, because he could play as well as fight.

“Nobody (opposition) wanted to know him when he was on the ice. That’s the kind of kid Sheffield folk like. But the vibes I was getting from him suggested he was thinking about playing elsewhere.”

King has disputed that publicly saying there will be much about Sheffield he will miss. He has since joined the Missouri Mavericks of the Central Hockey League.

Abel says that the recruitment currently in place for next season hints at a stronger, better gelled line up.

“We are getting players who understand the meaning of a team and come from a winning environment. We don’t want the “me, me, me” types here.”