Sheffield Steelers: The story of Martin St Pierre's Arena axing

Martin St. Pierre - who played 39 games in the NHL - was the top-notch forward who was supposed to lead Sheffield Steelers out of the championship wilderness.

By Bob Westerdale
Saturday, 28th September 2019, 9:04 am
Martin St Pierre in action against Coventry

The much-travelled forward arrived straight out of the KHL, one of the best leagues on the planet.

But history may show his 27 games there with Chinese ice hockey club Kunlun Red Star were effectively his farewell to high-quality hockey - as on Tuesday he was axed by Steelers, after just eight games.

While his earlier CV also featured an illustrious career at Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators and Montréal Canadiens, he wasn't deemed good enough for the humble EIHL.

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So was Father Time was already catching up with the 36-year-old Canadian?

Ironically, there was no better face off winner in the EIHL.

But while he shone in the circle duels, he went missing when it came to goals and assists.

In the Summer, coach Aaron Fox had called him a "high-end skilled forward who has put up big numbers at every level."

He thought he would be an impact player that would be the scourge of opposition defencemen.

But his two goals in eight performances, none of which came in the last four games, put his output under the spotlight.

It wasn't a fair return for either his salary or club expectations.

To be fair, St. Pierre had suffered an early toe injury which disrupted his pre-season with Sheffield.

In his first serious game, he scored a 4-4 game-tying goal against Nottingham Panthers, a match Steelers on to win handsomely.

But he and linemate Nikolia Lemtyugov were then split up because of defensive frailties - the first hint all was not well for the man from Ottowa.

He blew his last chance of securing his position at Sheffield when he scored just one assist in two games last weekend and was moderate in form in both games.

Sport can be cruel, but it does now seem that his best days are behind him.

In his import slot comes a gritty, hard-nosed Swede in the form of Lucas Sandström, another player short on physical stature, but should be higher on intensity.

“We have decided to replace him with a gritty high energy two way forward in Sandström" said Fox.

"He has a nice scoring touch and should bring some much-needed two-way play and energy to our group”.

Sandström has never played outside Sweden, where he played 506 league and playoff games in the second-flight. His last port of call was Almtuna IS.

Meanwhile, the search continues for injury cover for hand-injury victim Aaron Johnson.