Sheffield Steelers: Tony Smith confident Aaron Fox's value will shine through
Sheffield Steelers' owner Tony Smith accepts that he and the Sheffield fans won't know the true value of coach Aaron Fox until the on-ice action starts in the weeks ahead.
But he says the way the American has gone about transforming the roster in the close-season bodes well for a successful campaign.
And a winning team is deemed more important than ever - because the club owes so much to the fans who stood by them in their last, under-achieving campaign.
"We did a lot of research on Aaron, we didn't sign him lightly, but yes, as a Steelers' (bench) coach he is something of an unknown factor to us, everybody knows that the jury is out," said Smith.
"Cardiff Devils and Belfast Giants were in a similar position when they appointed Andrew Lord and Adam Keefe and that turned out well.
"But if Aaron is half as good at coaching as he is as a communicator and a recruiter, we'll be in a good position. He has a list of contacts to die for."
Smith said his gut feeling was that the new players that Fox had signed would make them a better balanced side than the one that finished seventh in the Elite League.
"I think we have upgraded in several positions, but I would say that," acknowledged Smith.
"I felt that before last year and it went flat pretty quick, didn't it?
"We don't want that to happen again, we want the very best available for the fans, who were brilliant last year.
"Even at one point when we were at the bottom of the league, they still came out in their thousands to support the team.
"In fact, we came on top of the Nottingham Panthers in the European poll of of attendances, enjoying a higher average as we didn't play games at iceSheffield.
"While we weren't doing well on the ice, the fans bought into what we were trying to achieve and stuck with us.
"Now I am excited at the team we are putting together.”
"We should have people to put the puck away, guys who excite, like Marc-Olivier Vallerand, Brendan Connolly and Anthony DeLuca, be stronger and tougher at the back and be a force to be reckoned with again," said the owner.