Sheffield ice hockey coach steps down in surprise move
Sheffield Steeldogs are close to unveiling a new coach after Ben Morgan decided to step down.
The NIHL outfit says it is the "end of an era" as Morgan, 31, has been associated with the club and its predecessors, Sheffield Scimitars, since 2004.
Morgan, who has also played 74 games for Sheffield Steelers, intends to continue his on ice-role playing at iceSheffield.
The club says it hopes to announce its new head coach this week - suggesting they have been working on a replacement for some time.
He has been head coach there since 2017 and bows out at the helm despite the possibility of a covid-secure tournament in the new year.
The Star understands another Steeldogs' veteran Greg Wood, 33, is a forerunner for the job as team boss.
He would be a good fit given his previous playing, captaining, coaching and bench duties at iceSheffield.
But it won't be Jason Hewitt, who has done a good job coaching at Hull Pirates but is likely to stay loyal to them.
Sheffield-born skater Morgan said: "It’s with a heavy heart that I announce my stepping down as head coach.
"It’s a decision which has not been made lightly but one which I feel is the right thing for me at this stage of my career. The last four years have been the proudest of my career and I’m extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to lead our club on the ice.
"I can be somewhat of an OCD freak, for me this means an all-or-nothing approach.
"As a coach, I have prided myself on continuing to raise the standards of the club both on and off-ice and I would like to think we are in a stronger position to continue to develop into a team who are challenging for honours whilst ensuring our ethos of developing homegrown talent is never compromised."
Morgan said his work and domestic commitments meant he had to make the decision.
"Something ultimately had to give, unfortunately this has to be hockey. The role of head coach requires 100% time, commitment and effort, and to give anything less would be doing the players, management and fans a disservice, something I am not willing to half-heartedly do. Our club demands and quite rightly deserves more.
"I would like to thank all the fans and sponsors for their continued support of the club during my time as head coach, the management (Ali, Roger, Jane, Robin, Paula, Tyler and of course, Shirls) for giving me this opportunity and for supporting me through every moment and every tough decision that’s had to be made. To all the lads who have battled on the ice for me and our club, cheers boys. And finally to my family, Claire and the kids for their patience and support during the more stressful times, thank you.
"It’s now time to focus on doing my bit on the ice for the team and supporting the new head coach in whatever way, shape or form I can."
Dogs co-owner Ali Cree said of Morgan's standards: "On and off the ice he helped us excel and his belief in developing young, British talent and giving them opportunities as part of our squad and the prospect programme was always exceptional.
“His tag line of honesty and application will live throughout the club for years to come and he has set a standard that will continue to inspire all new players.”
Fellow owner Roger Williams added: "I have been lucky to see Ben as a fan, in a media role and over the past couple of years as an owner, and what stands out to me is his commitment. Whether that’s blocking shots on the ice, preparing for games or doing interviews just minutes after leaving the ice, Morgs always gives 100% and does whatever the club needs.
“I’m pleased he led the Dogs to our first two major trophies as that will show his impact forever, leaving a legacy that will stretch beyond the playing careers of any of the current team.
"I’m also glad that we aren’t losing our number 6 on the ice as I know he has lots left to give - both as a player in his own right but also in supporting the rest of the guys”.