Sheffield Steelers rally round Anthony DeLuca despite drug suspension

Sheffield Steelers have not turned their back on winger Anthony DeLuca, who left the club under a cloud of alleged cannabis abuse.

Monday, 24th January 2022, 11:10 am

Club owner Tony Smith says the organisation retains the Canadian's registration through the international transfer card system while he plays for Trois-Rivières Lions in Quebec.

There is still affection for the suspended DeLuca in the South Yorkshire dressing room and Smith says that the forward is not barred from the club.

"We sent Anthony home to keep playing, he is playing in the Coast (ECHL) at the moment. We will continue to review the situation. It is ever-changing" said Smith.

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The owner said coach Aaron Fox continues to look for injury cover personnel.

"In a few months' time if the situation changes that will be a call for Aaron. Anthony is not barred from the club. That's not the case, at all.

"We will help him as much as we can. Anthony needs help, he doesn't need isolating from hockey."

Asked why the 26-year-old needed help, Smith replied: "The way people treat it (a person's difficulties arising from drugs) these days, it is something we need try and help them overcome."

Anthony DeLuca, left, and Martin Latal.

Smith said that since DeLuca had failed a routine drug test the EIHL club had kept in touch with him.

"We keep in contact with him, the medical staff keeps in contact with him, and that is where we leave it for now.

"We still hold his ITC card and so he's still registered via the IIHF but is removed from the roster as far as the EIHL is concerned.

"As it stands he is not coming back to the Steelers right now."

Anthony Deluca pic: Dean Woolley

On the wider picture, Smith said the club would never want to associate itself with drug abuse.

Cannabis has been legalised in Canada but the owner insisted: "We have zero tolerance on all drugs, not just in the club but in the league as well. The bottom line is Anthony failed a test.

"The whys and wherefores, what is legal in Canada etc, are not my concern. We have to concentrate on the players we do have at the moment."

Steelers' skipper Jonathan Phillips said the personal welfare of a team comrade was paramount.

Anthony DeLuca in Denmark.

He said the feeling in the dressing room was exactly the same as when DeLuca was there.

"At the end of the day, and I am not speaking about anything specific that has happened, but from a dressing room point of view, it is such a tight-knit community within that room, you battle together every single day, and if anyone is in trouble or needs help, you'll find 100 percent of our people are going to be there for him. Not that I think he needs help or anything like that."