DANNY Meyers knows more than most how valuable Nottingham Panthers fans can be in getting behind their team.
For six seasons, he iced in front of arguably the most vocal supporters in British ice hockey.
Now the new Sheffield Steelers defenceman knows they could turn the spotlight against him, for joining their greatest rivals. On the other hand, they could turn on their own troops, if Steelers get the upper hand at the NIC on Saturday.
“It will be a big day for me, there will be butterflies,” he said. “I have a lot of happy memories there. I made a lot of friends at Nottingham but I am a Steeler now.
“It’s going to be cool as I have experienced the rivalry on the other side, now I will see what it’s like for visiting players.”
Does he expect to be abused by Panther fans?
“I don’t know. I didn’t walk out on team, I was told I was not good enough; I thought I was. If they do decide to go down that road (booing him) that’s fine,” he said. “It will only spur me on more. Really, it will make no difference if they boo me or not.”
Meyers accepts the positive role NIC fans can have. But he thinks the partisan fervour can be a two-edged sword.
He said: “It can be extremely loud when the team is playing well and provide momentum but the fans can get on the players’ backs too, it can swing the other way. When Nottingham are on a roll they are tough to handle and if the crowd are behind them, of course it helps them.
“Nottingham can get frustrated though, it can be their Achilles heel, they can be their own worse enemy. We have to frustrate them and try to take the crowd out of it.”
Meyers, 29, was less than happy with the way coach Corey Neilson dumped him.
But he says: “It’s easy for me to say the game is a personal thing between me and Cory but we have to play them 10 times this year and I don’t think I muster enough strength to carry it on.
“It would be disrespectful and arrogant to say it’s about me and Cory, these fixtures play such an important part in where the league title is going.”
Sheffield underperformed against Nottingham on most occasions last year. They were hustled, harried and outplayed in many of the matches.
“That form is something we are going to turn around this year,” he said. “It harmed Steelers’ league ambitions last year.”