Sheffield Steelers: Double injury blow could force Fox into player market
Sheffield Steelers may have to plunge back into the player market after just three League games.
Injuries to import defencemen Aaron Johnson, 36, and Aaron Brocklehurst, 34, threaten to derail early-season results.
The pair were missing in the last-ditch win at Dundee Stars last Sunday, following injuries sustained the night before against Manchester Storm at home.
Sheffield management, understandably, don't wish to go into detail of what their respective issues are.
But I believe Johnson's problem to be the most severe - and could lead him to being out for a month or even longer.
At least he will be able to help out on the bench in his new role as assistant coach.
Brocklehurst has already sustained wounds to his upper body earlier this season - he has now been re-injured in a late hit on the boards and so he will have to be monitored carefully.
If he and/or Johnson are out for any length of time, I would expect Steelers to start the process of finding a short-term replacement, something they have been adept at doing in previous years and should be even better at this season, given coach Aaron Fox's contacts in the various world player markets.
Fox witnessed Eric Meland give a superb performance as a stand-in on Steelers' blue line in the 6-5 win in Scotland.
"He has been a revelation," the coach told The Star.
"He has been excellent in any role I have asked of him."
Meland has scored in his last two games and has been an athletic and dependable presence on the blue line when called upon.
John Armstrong and Marc Olivier-Vallerand are neck-and-neck at the top of Steelers' personal points table after six games.
Armstrong has three goals and six assists, his team-mate two and seven.
Top goalscorer at this early point is Robert Dowd.
The top point-scoring defenceman is Ben O'Connor with six assists.
Meanwhile Tomas Duba has crept ahead in the competition for the top goaltending ratings.
He can boast a 87.88 per cent save ratio, with Pavel Kantor chakling up 82%.
Steelers are hoping for an early season financial shot in the arm with two home games the Arena this weekend.
On Saturday, they host Guildford Flames, who put six past Coventry Blaze on Sunday.
And 24 hours later they face Glasgow Clan, who competed hard in a 5-3 reverse at Cardiff Devils on Sunday night.