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Winning titles is in Sheffield Steelers' DNA says John Armstrong

John Armstrong
John Armstrong
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The new players joining Sheffield Steelers in the next week will do well to heed John Armstrong's viewpoint of their new club: Everybody connected to the team will expect you to win silverware.

The centre says that while no team can be guaranteed title-winners year-in, year-out, that is the aspiration at the club he has just left.

Armstrong, who will be playing for Zagreb Medvescak in the EBEL league in 2018-19, has kept an eye on recruitment at Sheffield.

"The Steelers' entire organisation from its owner, front office and support staff, its players and the fans all expect winning hockey" he said.

"Aspiring to win every time out is admirable and commendable.

"However, no team in any sport has ever or will ever win championships every year - but that should not stop a team from trying."

Armstrong said helping his team win the Play Offs two years ago was "a tremendous accomplishment."

"Not winning at least one of the championships last year was disappointing for all involved.

"That said, the Steelers reputation for being a winning franchise remains intact.

"Over the last two years the team played in the play off finals, winning one, and were very competitive in both the League standings (top three), and also in the Challenge Cup playoffs."

Armstrong's final season with Sheffield was marred by injury.

But he said: "Injuries are a part of hockey that I am used to. When I got back from my injury, I may not have have been in the best shape, but I was enjoying playing the game more than ever.

"Sometimes it takes something bad to happen for people to realise how lucky they truly are. I think that was the case for me last season."

Armstrong has positive things to say about the club he leaves behind.

"The Steelers will have a great season in 2018-2019.

"It’s a quality organisation with exceptional British players. From the talks I have had with Thommo, (Paul Thompson) Tony and Shaun, (Smith) it sounds like they are trying to build a team of players that know their roles and will be willing to do whatever it takes to win.

"My favourite memories are – The fans, winning the Playoffs; and of course...getting engaged while in Sheffield!"

Armstrong benefited from the University of Sheffield course the club helped engineer

"The school package was one of the main selling points for me when I originally joined the Steelers.

It was a great experience, I learned a lot, met a lot of good people and I am now much more confident in business settings."

Asked what the main attraction was of joining Medvescak Zagreb he replied: "I had a good conversation with their sports manager, Aaron Fox.

"It’s an opportunity to play in a top league and live in a new city that I have heard great things about. If I do well in Zagreb there is the potential for me to double or triple my salary because the salary ceiling is much higher in the EBEL than it is in the EIHL."

I have heard great things about the team and the city. I know that the League is one of the top leagues in Europe. Ever since I left North America I have wanted to play in the EBEL."

Armstrong also revealed that three Elite League teams inquired about his services before he accepted the Zagreb offer.