Sheffield Steelers star Tomas Duba on how freedom from Aaron Fox helped contribute to successful season

Tomas Duba says the freedom that Aaron Fox allowed his Sheffield Steelers' team to play in was a major reason why the team was successful last season.

By Bob Westerdale
Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 7:00 am

Coaches don't always get a ringing endorsement from players, especially those who could move on to other clubs, or retire.

But goaltender Duba says the way Sheffield stayed on the coat-tails of league leaders Cardiff Devils and beat them in their own rink in the Challenge Cup final had much to do with Fox's relationship with individual players.

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Tomas Duba

"We had such a good team, a great bunch of talented, experienced and funny guys," recalled the Czech Republic netminder.

"Each player was such a unique character and it was fun to go for every single practise and to play every game.

"I was excited to go there and be in the locker room and listen to everyone joking around, then to go on the ice and compete with the highest effort. I miss that so much," he said

"One of the reasons why it was that way, for sure, was Foxy, who built the team as a manager, and let the team play to some extent freely as a coach.

"And he never spoiled any fun in the locker room!

"The club makes sure to take good care for both the players and the fans."

Duba said he had nothing but "great memories" from the 2019-20 season and is as frustrated as anyone that Sheffield has been stopped from attempting to build on it, by the coronavirus pandemic.

"The season ended unfortunately earlier than expected, but luckily with the very last game winning a trophy.

"Me and my family certainly enjoyed our time in Sheffield and in the UK. We visited so many interesting places, met so many wonderful and friendly people.

"It's been nice to see my sister, after a long time, who lives in the UK with her family.

"I got to see a couple of Premier League football matches, which I am big fan of. I even became friends with Petr Cech, Czech and Chelsea football legend that converted to ice hockey goalie and plays for Guildford Phoenix.

“It has been a wonderful experience and I hope that as soon as the situation allows, I will be back. Greetings to all people in Sheffield, be safe!”

Duba, who said last season's raucous call of his name from rink announcer Dave Simms was "unforgettable" was rumoured to have retired this week, on the web.

But the 39-year-old rapidly dismissed that suggestion - mirroring a recent Star article in which he said of the covid-ruined season: "I don't see any change for the better at the moment so I decided to put my career on hold for a while and if this takes way too long or I lose my hunger, motivation and will to continue, I will retire completely."

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