Mark Matheson, the super-cool defenceman who was Sheffield’s top import performer last year, has signed on the dotted line for another season at Steelers.
Of the 16 imports that finished last season on the Arena team’s books, Matheson, 34, is one of only two to have formalised a return, the other being the previously-contracted Mathieu Roy.
And it’s fair to assume the club’s second top points scorer became even more invaluable to the club when it was revealed that Ben O’Connor was moving to Kazakhstan.
Matheson’s offensive ingenuity, his astute defensive positioning and overall knowledge of the game would have been difficult to replace in a roster which has lost two import defenceman and has yet to agree terms with Scott Aarseen or Miika Franssila.
In fact, until today, GB blue liner Davey Phillips and 15-year-old Jordan Griffin were the only names inked in on the defensive roster.
The one-year re-signing of the Canadian nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’ will be the start of a flood of import signings over the coming Summer months as Sheffield embark on the task of catching Cardiff Devils.
Coach Paul Thompson said: “It (originally) took me two years to sign Mark and once I had him I wasn’t about to let him go! Mark was a priority. He was one of the premium players in our league last season. On and off the ice he brought quality and professionalism.
“That’s why we did the deal with Mark a while ago, he along with a few others were signed early. He was our own Mo Farah with the amount of minutes he was able to log.
“Mark has a great skill set and can play in every situation. Also the way he thinks the game, he has a great hockey IQ and hockey mind and that too is a vital ingredient. Even though Mark is a veteran player he comes to the rink every day with a positive attitude wanting to be better.”
Matheson commented: “I’m excited to be coming back. I’m a well travelled hockey player but soon after arriving in Sheffield my wife and I knew this is a place we could settle, we were comfortable here from day one.
“We weren’t that far away last year and we have a great returning core of British players who know what it takes to win.
“I enjoy working with Thommo; he is a very experienced coach who leads us well. I know he is working hard making the changes needed to bring the trophies back to Sheffield.”