NOBODY would have thanked John DeCaro for saying it last season.
But he thought it was quite an accomplishment for his Sheffield Steelers team to come second in the Elite League.
It’s a notion that, frankly, goes against the winning tradition that the club was founded on.
But the American, who will fill the Sheffield Arena goal when the action starts again in September, thinks Sheffield were well down the pecking order last year when it came to talent.
“I thought Nottingham Panthers were the best team on paper last year” he admits. “They had the most talent from top to bottom, they certainly had more depth than us. And the same goes for (eventual champions) Belfast Giants, who played a really good game all year.
“While the Play Offs were a big disappointment, finishing second in the League wasn’t so much, with the amount of talent we had.
“We were not one of the better teams. So it was an accomplishment.”
The goaltender hopes he won’t be saying the same at the end of the 2012-3 campaign however.
“I think we will come really close. Finner (coach Ryan Finnerty) has addressed the issue of defence by upgrading at the back end. I know two of the guys he is talking to for the final slot and they are nasty to play against. Danny Meyers was a huge pick up and Cory Pecker will bring his goals over and pick up a lot of points.”
DeCaro says that while other teams have made good signings - “Coventry are going to be really strong, none of their new guys are slouches” - he thinks Sheffield can prevail.
“I am looking forward to next season; we have a really good chance. North Americans like me who were new last year now have a grasp of the way the game is played in Britain - the League is the Stanley Cup to clubs and fans. I want to win that league.”
Sheffield Steeldogs face off their Premier League/Cup season at Slough on September 15, with their first home game at iceSheffield the following day, against Swindon. They first renew their Roses rivalry with Manchester Phoenix on September 28. Boxing Day sees them at Basingstoke.