Simmsey’s Sheffield Steelers’ column: Why moving Cole Shudra was the right call

Flashback: Sheffield Steelers sign GB youngsters Cole Sudra and Liam Kirk on three year full time apprentice contracts.
Flashback: Sheffield Steelers sign GB youngsters Cole Sudra and Liam Kirk on three year full time apprentice contracts.
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I can feel your pain, you want news and from where you sit it seems like nothing is happening in Steelerland, the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact by the weekend, yes as early as that, you should start to see the roster increase in size and that will hopefully bring a smile to your face.

Earlier this week we announced the deal surrounding Cole Shudra. To recap, Cole has signed a two-year extension with the club.

He will however spend this coming season loaned out to MK Lightning.

This move is the best of both worlds for the player and the club.

Cole moves to a club where if he works hard will give him more ice time, much needed minutes that the Steelers couldn’t guarantee him.

The club retain the services of Shudra for the following season. Young Cole comes back with more experience of hockey and life, as this will be the first time away from home.

How we handle our young Brits is both a new problem and an interesting one.

Since we started the apprenticeship programme we have seem Liam develop with a move to North America now looking inevitable.

Cole, Kieran Brown and now young Jordan Griffin are part of the Steelers club but they aren’t ready to step into a top nine or 12. Training with the Steelers is vital but so is playing minutes, that’s something a club like ours can’t guarantee because the pressure here is to win. We have to manage their progress carefully and so far, I think we have it 100% right.

We knew Liam was a special talent and had to take the tough decision last year to move young Luke Ferrara on.

Cole now being loaned out to MK is 100% the correct move, young Jordan too will find a new home I’m guessing after pre-season and training camp.

He will train with us but play elsewhere. Kieran is the interesting one, everyone at the club is interested in him. This season maybe he develops with us, a little like Cole did last year. I think the way Paul has managed their progress to date couldn’t have been better.

As new kids join us in the years to come what we are seeing with Cole will become a more common process, it seems strange now because it’s the first time, but get used to it!

Ben O’Connor’s move last week to the KHL quiet rightly made headlines. Interesting reading some of the thoughts of you on social media. I loved the line about how the Steelers should have not allowed the move and kept Ben. The simple reality was 100% not possible. Firstly, why would you stop a bloke having this kind of opportunity and that’s before all the contractual and financial stuff.

People, this is another occasion where I warn you to be careful what you wish for. You want a better league with better players, with younger Brits having a pathway for progression. That’s what we all want by the way, we all share that aim.

We are, however, used to our league bringing players in from here there and everywhere. Now we have developed when other leagues look at us and take our players, it’s only what we have been doing for the past 27 years.

I guarantee you we will develop young Brits and they will get the opportunity to play in Europe in years to come.

What we have to do is make sure the pool of players is big enough for those who wish to move away to do so and thus leave us with the required numbers to keep our own club and league well supplied.

That’s one of, if not the main reason Paul Thompson was brought to Sheffield, to turn the team into a club and manage the playing part of our business.

Whilst selfishly we want all the talent for ourselves you should be proud that it is our club leading the way.

That means players will come and go but we are doing the right thing both short and long term. In five year’s time I hope we have 10 players out on loan because if we do then we will also have a stock of youngsters fighting to make our Steelers team and that in the best interest of our club as well.

We are building short, medium and long term foundations.

On Friday, we move on to the present and an important, part of the immediate jigsaw, a key member of next year’s playing squad.

More discussion on that in next week’s column.