Sheffield Steelers - and the decision to axe Coventry-bound Goertzen

Steve Goertzen, left, with another Steeler leave Danny Meyers.
Steve Goertzen, left, with another Steeler leave Danny Meyers.
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Sheffield Steelers’ coach Gerad Adams says the decision to release captain Steve Goertzen was “one of the most painful professional decisions” he has had to make.

And while club owner Tony Smith supported the move he also described it as a “loss” - and accepts it could rebound on the team next season.

The player himself has largely kept his counsel on the whole affair.

So what were the real reasons behind the decision to axe the man who led Sheffield to Play Off glory?

Smith told The Star he had anticipated Goertzen’s personal demands would be “too great.”

“I was sad to see him go” said the owner.

“Yes he was part of the core of our team and he might come back and haunt us and prove us wrong for letting him go.

“But I didn’t think we could get to a level where we could be comfortable and with it fitting into our wage structure.

“His previous years with us had included a University package and we felt it would not be right to offer him a figure that was below what was probably his expectation.

“Steve was a real team player and a leader and he is now a loss to Sheffield Steelers, but everybody in the club understands why we have done it. Business has to come first and you cannot re-sign somebody purely on their reputation or previous form - we just felt we could not get close this year to what he would want.”

Smith said sometimes players re-signed on a reduced salary tended to feel undervalued and wouldn’t play like they had done previously because of that financial factor. “Our consensus was that he would not be the same player.”

Coach Adams said letting any player go was “by far and a way the worst part of the job.”

And he admitted the specific case of team captain Goertzen was a particularly painful one.

“It was my decision - I had to do what I felt what was the best for the team. It is not fair to talk about players’ contracts but all I can say is that I have an obligation to have some balance across the budget.

“Steve is a hell of a person and a good hockey player. He gave great service to the club. I did not enjoy having to release him.”

Goertzen, who made 68 NHL appearances for Columbus, Phoenix Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes, said after signing for Coventry Blaze: “I’m thankful for my time in Sheffield; me and my family met some amazing people. I was honoured to be captain of a great group.”

He added: “Sheffield are always a strong team and had some good success against Coventry last season and I look forward to the challenge of changing that around!”