New Sheffield Steelers coach makes his media debut at the Arena

Westerdale meets Barrasso
Westerdale meets Barrasso
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Goalies, across many sports, can be a strange breed.

In ice hockey, it's not unusual that the characters of the net guardians appear distinctly odd or distant. Maybe its a defence mechanism - the ultimate 'Thou Shalt Not Pass' creed.

So today's Sheffield Steelers' press conference announcing the arrival of their new coach, once one of the world's greatest goaltenders, promised to be pure theatre.

Especially as, in June this year, The Hockey News, the Canadian Bible for puck-watchers, accused Tom Barrasso of once being "a surly, abrasive and rude man."

Add that to Ken Priestlay and Jamie Leach's indication that the 53-year-old was not a man to be messed with and we had ourselves an interesting meeting to look forward to, at Sheffield Arena.

Yet the man who helped Pittsburgh Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992 and a silver medal with Team USA at the 2002 Olympics came across as a charming and urbane gentleman at the Arena media session.

Tom Barrasso meets the media

Tom Barrasso meets the media

The 896-game NHL'er, who arrived from Britain after a three-year job tour or Russia, Slovakia, and Italy modestly said he was evolving as a coach and looked upon the Steelers' job as a step-up.

"It is a good job and a better opportunity for me" he said.

Barrasso had started to become aware of the challenges with the current playing squad but said he hoped to bring a "new lease of life to them."

His evaluation would not be fettered by unnecessary targets from the ownership.

Steelers new coach

Steelers new coach

The goal was to start improving at Nottingham Panthers on Saturday and then continue onwards and upwards.

Which shouldn't be hard as the team are languishing at the bottom end of the league.

"We had a team meeting yesterday and we spoke about the team identity. We have to be more committed in the defensive zone.

"I want players to concentrate on what's on the front of the jersey and not what's on the back2 he said.

"Players need to realise they are essentially just visiting the club and they need to make an impact if they want to stick around."

As for recruitment he said he intended to "got with the guys we've got" but added that if players became available that were as keen to work defensively as they are to score goals, they would be considered.

He suggested a return to Russian League coaching may be a longer-term personal ambition, but stressed that his total focus now was to increase team confidence and bring in results.