Return of ice hockey will be major boost for players and fans says Sheffield Steelers' Marco Vallerand

Marco Vallerand believes the eventual return of ice hockey will be a tremendous boost to players and fans alike.
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The Sheffield Steelers' forward admits the pressure is currently on international athletes, like himself, who rely on sport for a living.

It is not clear yet exactly when the puck will drop again at Sheffield Arena, but the French Canadian says everyone will share in the same sense of relief when it does.

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He is optimistic the EIHL season will start before Christmas.

"I am one of the people who believes that life has to get back to some sort of normality at some point," Vallerand told The Star.

"We need to learn to live with a pandemic.

"I really hope we get back on the ice, people need some kind of entertainment in their lives.

Marco VallerandMarco Vallerand
Marco Vallerand

"I am not just talking about hockey I am talking about everything. People getting together and being together. So I hope so."

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Vallerand recalled how last season came to a crushingly-disappointing, premature end in March.

"We were one of the last leagues to still be up and running. I think it was us and the KHL.

"So we knew things were going to get shut down at some point.

"We were at the arena, we were on the ice getting a normal skate to get ready for a game (they were scheduled to play at home against Manchester Storm, but that match and the four other remaining Elite League fixtures and play offs never materialised.)

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"We'd had a couple of meetings a couple of days before, even that morning, about what was going on (in terms of the spread of the coronavirus.)

"We were practicing and Tony (Smith; owner) showed up - everyone then thought the season was ending. It was a bit of a bummer, to be honest.

"Going through to the last couple of games of the (regular) season and just after that Challenge Cup final we were riding high, but that was pretty much it."

Finances can be strained for players who have not got another summer income - and no one has a precise knowledge of when their club will ice again.

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"It is a lot of stress on our shoulders," said the 31-year-old hotshot.

"If I talk for myself, it is a lot of stress not knowing if money is to be coming in.

"But I am a positive person I know I will provide if need be.

"I will find something to occupy myself and get money somewhere else.

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"But I do hope hockey is going to get started again and I will be able to play and live off my passion."

Vallerand, speaking from his home in Quebec City, has signed on for a second season in South Yorkshire, after scoring 26 goals and 25 assists in 40 regular season games for Sheffield.