Sheffield Steelers: 'This looks like being the best team I've ever played in' - cautiously optimistic Ben O'Connor on the new season
Ben O'Connor has been around the block too many times to get over-excited about his new look Sheffield Steelers' team.
"Everybody at every club thinks they are good in August, that they will win the league," says the 30 year old defenceman.
"What's on paper is one thing, it is how a team gets in their stride and does on the ice that counts.
"But from what I have seen this looks like being the best Steelers' team I have ever played in."
If that optimistic view turns out to be correct, then Steelers will certainly be in contention for silverware after a barren 2018-19.
"After last season we have to get back to the Steeler way, which is being right at the top and leading the pack or in contention with the others, pushing the likes of Belfast Giants and Cardiff teams," said O'Connor, who emerged on the Steeler scene in 2014/15.
"Aaron Fox's recruitment looks good on paper, with all the experience and high calibre players he has brought in.
"Last year we went with younger players and that didn't necessarily pan out.
"Now we have got a mix: experienced heads and skilled players who can put the puck in the net."
O'Connor said fingers were pointed by some at last year's defence and goaltending as chiefly responsible for their slide down the table to a position of obscurity.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
The i newsletter cut through the noise
"I am biased but I think our problems were more about scoring enough goals,” he said.
"People were quick to point at the 'D' but if we had let in two or three it wouldn't be bad if we had scored four or five.
"We have to be more potent all round," added the Great Britain star.
"Last year was a bitter pill to swallow and we as a club have got to get back to where we used to be.
"We have got to be in a position where we are fighting for the league title and in the play off finals in Nottingham."
O'Connor has been impressed by new d-man Jonas Liwing's style and standards, since skating with the Swede at iceSheffield.
"You can tell he has played at a high level," said the Brit blue liner. "He looks a good skilled player."
Steelers began their pre-season camp on Monday.
The day started with an induction programme, followed by individual photograph sessions.
Fitness testing followed, before the players were on the ice.