Sheffield Steelers fans love those NHL old boys

Sheffield Steelers' dressing room has been home to many former NHL players over the years - and owner Tony Smith is paying tribute to one of their number who is leaving and another who is arriving.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 2:19 pm

Steelers will be without Aaron Johnson next season as he makes a move towards coaching in north America.

Coming in to the club will be Justin Hodgman, who was on the roster of NHL club Arizona Coyotes in 2014-15.

When Johnson, now 38, played for Sheffield, he always oozed class and confidence - something you'd expect after 291 NHL games over seven seasons at Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Aaron Johnson celebrating a cup n with Sheffield Steelers

Obviously with a track record like that, Johnson would have accrued an impressive income over the years.

But Smith says money is not a sole motivating factor for such high-pedigree players who come to Sheffield and other EIHL clubs.

Defenceman Johnson put his body on the line for Steelers on 87 occasions, scoring 33 points.

Smith said: "I have huge respect for all NHLers who come here.

There was never anything gven away easily when Aaron Johnson is around

"My respect is both for the level they have played and the fact they are prepared to carry on playing after being at such a high level. They obviously love the game.

"Wealthy people in other situations would drop out.

"But people like Aaron Johnson, they just love playing and would carry on playing forever if they could."

Smith says he is looking forward to watching how Hodgman connects with the team and its fans through season 2021-22.

New Sheffield Steelers signing Justin Hodgman

"He is one of the biggest signings we will make this summer in terms of impact to the brand" said the owner.

"Some players have an impact both on and off the ice and he is one of those guys, because he is an NHLer.

"We have seen in the past NHL'ers create a huge stir amongst the fans because they have 'been there, done that,' been to 'The Show' and want to be part of the game here. Our fans buy into that.

"A lot of our fans know of these guys, having watched them play (on TV or the web) and to see them in the flesh in the Arena is going to put bums on seats for us.

"As for his earnings with us, he is "up there with the big guns."