COLIN Shields - consumed with misery during some stages of his 30-game career at Sheffield Steelers - quit the club to avoid being “a distraction” to his team-mates, the player said today.
The veteran Great Britain forward said he felt uncomfortable in the side and never really settled into a consistent pattern of play.
He wrestled with form issues and a personal sense of being in the wrong place, before deciding it better to move on before Steelers’ crucial Christmas and New Year programme.
Shields, 32, has never quit any of his 11 previous clubs, mid-season, before.
And he won’t be completely specific about his reasons for doing so now.
Yesterday, The Star suggested that coach Ryan Finnerty had become exasperated with premium players in the team, including Shields.
Finnerty, who has attempted to spark more offense from the player by moving him from centre to wing and on different lines, hinted Shields wasn’t achieving what was asked of him.
Shields insisted he’d had no confrontation with Finnerty, although sources say the coach had forcibly impressed on him the need to win more ‘one-on-one’ battles, at face offs and during routine challenges for the puck.
Shields wouldn’t give much detail. He said: “I have nothing bad to say about the team. It’s just something that’s been going on for a few weeks.
“I didn’t feel myself and happy because it has never really worked out for me.
“That is nothing against anybody; I am not pointing the finger, I just felt the time was right to move on and cut the ties.
“There weren’t any issues in the dessing room or with the city; it is just one of those things.
“It is hard to describe; it wasn’t working and I didn’t want to drag it on and be a distraction for a team involved in a title hunt. I never settled and found my place in the team.”
Steelers had hoped for 30 goals a season from Shield; in fact he was on his way to that. In 30 games, he scored 14 +16: a point a game.
“I feel as if I had a good stretch to begin with and then a dip, came on strong and then everyone in the side was struggling to score,” he said.
“But I was the team’s second top scorer so I can’t have been that bad?”
“I am disappointed it has come to this and have no plans at the moment,” he said. “But I have no regrets coming to Steelers; I came with the greatest of intentions but just couldn’t find my rhythm.
“I’m not in a rush. But there are limited jobs available for British guys of a certain level and it is late in the season, but after the New Year I’ll start to look around.” Shields whose girlfriend lives in Belfast is already on Giants’ radar, although Braehead Clan may also be interested.