Sheffield Steelers: Aaron Fox looking for improvement for under-performers

Aaron Fox is working to improve players who have so far ‘under-performed’ for Sheffield Steelers.

Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 10:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 11:21 pm
Martin St Pierre

The coach released ex-NHL forward Martin St. Pierre recently, swapping pedigree for feistiness in the form of incoming Swedish winger Lucas Sandström.

He hopes he will get up to speed quickly - literally - and wants a couple of other members of the roster to also increase their commitment to the cause.

Steelers, who haven't won a period out of the last six, haven't publicly said much about the axing of St. Pierre.

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But Fox has clarified the club's view, suggesting the player's creativity had not been what would have been expected.

"He came in and had a toe injury to start so he didn't get off to a great start," said Fox, who, in fairness, added that St. Pierre was having to inject himself to quell the pain, to take to the ice.

"The pace of his game has never been a huge asset for him. He has always been one of those guys who finds time and space and then makes you pay, that wasn't happening here, at this part of the season.

"For us, Lucas became available, he is a grittier, two-way guy, that's responsible defensively and plays with more pace so we just felt it was a good decision."

St. Pierre, 36, was a noted puck-provider in his hey-day with clubs like Chicago Blackhawks.

"He has never been a huge goalscorer, but he is one of those guys who really sets the table for his team mates and nothing was happening clean for him," said Fox.

"He'd have an opportunity to make a good play and it would kind of double-clutch, it wasn't a tape-to-tape, and that was out of character for him.

"But when you bring 14 or 15 new guys in there is going to be mistakes along the way and I feel like there has been some guys who have out-performed what I expected out of them and there are a couple of guys who have under-performed from what I expected of them" said the coach.

"If you are changing three or four guys every year like Cardiff (Devils) does the process you get to go through to replace two to three guys is a big difference than when you are trying to fill a whole new roster.

"There are obviously going to be mistakes - there is no perfect process to this. For me it's more about the new identity; the culture of the room, the type of team you want to be moving forward."

Fox said it had taken some difficult decisions, like the release of St. Pierre, to figure out how to get there.

As for Sandström, the coach thought he had better night at Manchester on his debut last Saturday rather than at home against Cardiff 24 hours later.

“He is feisty, protective of his blue liners and will fit the group well,” said Fox.

Defenceman Jonas Liwing has not broken his arm, but he's still likely to be out for six week, Steelers say. The Swede went for hospital tests after a collision early in Sunday's game.