Sheffield Steelers star Travis Oleksuk gives his version of events on sudden exit

Travis Oleksuk says the main reason he quit Steelers was his desire to play in Austria again.
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That slightly contradicts the club's declaration that the player and his wife were "mentally having a hard time here."

However, the centreman, who had three prior seasons in that country, has clearly harboured a desire to return, despite signing for Sheffield in the Summer.

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When the chance arrived to join Villacher SV, he promptly told coach Aaron Fox he wanted to go there.

That left Fox scrambling around to find a replacement, eventually landing Matias Sointu, who played last weekend.

Oleksuk told The Star: "I think the main factor in leaving was just the opportunity to play in Austria again.

"I think just being so familiar and comfortable with the area and the league is something that is beneficial to have.

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"I don’t regret coming to Sheffield at all. And if this opportunity (in Austria) had not have arisen I would still be there.

"I never went looking for another deal, never had my agent go looking for a new team, it just so happened that Villach reached out to me out of the blue and after talking with my family, decided that we would like to pursue the offer."

Oleksuk says he believes he left the EIHL club "on good terms.

"As for returning, I would never close the door on that if the opportunity came up again."

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The forward thanked the Sheffield fans for their support over eight games.

Travis Oleksuk has left Sheffield Steelers.Travis Oleksuk has left Sheffield Steelers.
Travis Oleksuk has left Sheffield Steelers.

"It really was amazing how passionate the Steelers faithful are," he said.

Fox says the fact that Oleksuk's wife was pregnant was a factor in his decision to leave.

Mrs Oleksuk was ten days away from child-birth and she had "never really settled in here" said Fox.

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"She had her first baby in Austria, been there for a long time and there was a support system there for her.

Travis Oleksuk hasn't ruled out a return to England.Travis Oleksuk hasn't ruled out a return to England.
Travis Oleksuk hasn't ruled out a return to England.

"There was an injury in Villach about ten days ago and they reached out to him.

"There were some friends on that team that maybe knew she was a little bit unhappy here; the hockey world is small and that is how things work sometimes.

"He approached me with the situation and I don't want to keep guys in a situation they are not happy with."

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Oleksuk accepted that top-of-the-league Sheffield would have to find a replacement and that Villach would have to compensate Steelers.

Fox would only say "it was a while ago" that he discovered the player's wife was unsettled.

Steelers are back in action again on Wednesday against Coventry Blaze.