Sheffield Arena tribute for tragic player who loved Steeler fans
Josef Hrabal has spoken about the affection the late Marek Troncinský had for Steelers' fans - as the club ponders a way to leave an enduring tribute to the tragic player on Sheffield Arena ice.
Supporters of the EIHL club raised a heart-warming £11,200 for Troncinský's daughter after the defenceman, who had signed on for Steelers again for the 2021-22 season, passed away in his native Czech Republic.
His cause of death has never been publicly stated.
Hrabal, a team-mate of Troncinský's in the Challenge Cup winning season, publicly applauded the Sheffield supporters for their charity work and wishes.
"I want to send a big thank you to everyone who decided to help Tron's daughter," he told The Star
"It is just proof of how great Tron played in Sheffield and how everyone loved him.
"I talked to him many times after he signed for Sheffield again and he loved those orange fans too."
Steelers' owner Tony Smith said plans were still being finalised as to how the club will pay a tribute in the Arena to Troncinský, a former Czech international.
It may include a mini version of his shirt embedded under the ice.
"It would be nice if we could do that at the 'D' position he played. I am sure the fans would appreciate that" said Smith.
Czech journalist Pavel Ryšavý says the 32-year-old defenceman's death had been a huge blow to the sport in his country.
"Marek was a guy everyone liked. He was popular with the fans and his team mates.
"Marek always seemed like a carefree and cheerful guy. But none of us can know what he was going through inside.
"It's all a terribly sad story of a hockey player who had the talent to play in the NHL."
Hrabal, meanwhile, has explained his reasoning behind his own decision not to return to Sheffield in September.
Instead he will be starting off the season at his home town team HC Prerov.
"Yes we decided to stay home," said Hrabal, 35.
"My team looks to be pretty good this year and I have great relationships with everyone in the club.
"I will stay till the end of October and then I will see.
"I need my son to visit school after a difficult Covid school year and I will not travel without family any more."
*Steelers have confirmed they will be the EIHL’s representatives in this year’s Continental Cup.
They are scheduled to play in Aalborg, Denmark for the semi-finals of the Cup, between 19-21 November.
The group features the hosts Aalborg, HK Gomel, Asiago Hockey, Amiens Gothiques and Acroni Jesenice.
Should Sheffield qualify for the finals, they will be played between the 7-9th January.
*Dronfield-based Steeler and former Sheffield Ice Hockey Academy player Alex Graham, 18, has been selected as the 105th pick in the Canadian Hockey League import draft, by major junior Ontario team Niagara IceDogs.
He posted on social media: "Can’t wait to start my new journey."