Sheffield Steelers: Tony Smith salutes Glasgow-bound Mathieu Roy

Mathieu Roy's return to the Elite League has prompted Steelers' owner Tony Smith to pay tribute to the player's irrepressible talent and team-orientated drive for success.

Sunday, 14th July 2019, 10:21 am
Updated Sunday, 14th July 2019, 5:48 pm
Mathieu Roy

Roy played 273 games for Sheffield, scoring 147 goals and 150 assists, and was one of the most popular players in the club's recent history.

Current-day skater Kieran Brown admits he once "idolised" the French Canadian.

Battered and bruised after repeatedly putting himself into harm's way though, Roy seemingly retired at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

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But then he expressed a willingness to return to Steelers last Christmas, as Tom Barrasso's team tottered amid mixed results.

The offer wasn't taken up - maybe the club felt uneasy about taking back a player they feared might be past his best.

Now the import has joined up with another ex-Steeler, playing under coach Zack Fitzgerald, under the colours of the Glasgow Clan.

Smith is pleased to see the courageous forward and renowned shot-blocker back in the EIHL, even if he will be an opponent in 2019-20.

"He is a great goalscorer and a great character-guy," said Smith.

"He was never any trouble (for the club) when he was in Sheffield and was a real warrior out on the ice, for us.

"Mathieu was offered to us at Christmas. We didn't go back for him in the summer because Aaron (Fox; coach) wanted to move in a different direction."

Roy's time at Sheffield had a profound effect on young prospect Brown, who learned much from watching him.

"The way he'd appear in front of the net, tipping pucks, I never used to do that until I saw him doing it," said the forward.

"He was an unbelievable player, I just used to watch him in practice and wanted to do everything he did.

"His shot was out of this world, I idolised him."

Roy, 32, says the Clan was "always a place I was looking to play for" and says he is going there to win a championship.

Re-uniting with Fitzgerald was also part of the reason he joined them, he said, adding that playing Sheffield would be "a special night".

Clan coach Fitzgerald commented: "Roy has made a huge name for himself in British hockey, has won championships and will find the net for our club.

“Mathieu is a natural winner and goalscorer. The experience he will bring to the roster will be invaluable and will push us on to the next level.

Interestingly, Roy, a two-time Elite League champion and play off winner, isn't owner Smith's top choice as his favourite Steeler, during his regime at the helm.

That accolade falls to Colt King (6ft 2ins power winger, 2011-12.)

"Colt was such an exciting player," said Smith.

"He had been a key signing initially but he and the coach (Ryan Finnerty) didn't get on.

"Ryan wanted to release him and I had to respect his decision and didn't get involved.

"The thing about Colt was that he'd bring fans to the edge of their seats, whether that would be by scoring goals or going toe-to-toe with someone at centre ice.

"He could certainly mix it with the best of them and was always a real presence at the opposition net."

Smith said he hoped to see similar characteristics from players in this coming season's roster, which has just two skating vacancies left.