Should Sheffield Steelers have a brand new first line when the EIHL season faces off?

Brett Neumann was part of a Steelers' line formation that hinted at great things.
Brett Neumann celebrates at Manchester, picture by Hayley RobertsBrett Neumann celebrates at Manchester, picture by Hayley Roberts
Brett Neumann celebrates at Manchester, picture by Hayley Roberts

His combination with centreman Scott Allen and winger Daniel Ciampini was usually recognised as Sheffield's top line.

While their best hockey was reserved for the later stages of the EIHL season, it wasn't enough to secure a championship.

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That failing, of course, can't be laid directly at their door; all players who wore the orange shirt had to take responsibility for that.

Scott AllenScott Allen
Scott Allen

However, at the end of the 2022-23 campaign, Steelers' owner Tony Smith indicated he'd like to see a new first line in the following campaign.

"I'd like to see a proper hard-hitting, fast-paced top line" he told The Star.

"It might be one of the existing guys slots in, but generally, I think we do need a brand new top line.

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"That might hurt a few people's egos and I think maybe one of two on the second line should be considering third line next season because that is where I think they belong.

Daniel Ciampini arms aloft at NottinghamDaniel Ciampini arms aloft at Nottingham
Daniel Ciampini arms aloft at Nottingham

"We have to get better and have to find these top-rated players who can play on the top line and put the minutes in" said Smith.

Coach Aaron Fox has brought Neumann back to the fold.

Whether or not top-line status will be bestowed on him again remains to be seen as Fox continues his recruitment drive.

Neumann, delighted to have personally cemented a deal to return for his second season, hopes his former linemates will do likewise.

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Neumann said it wouldn't matter to him what line he plays on.

"Last year I don't think people in the team said: 'This is first line, this is the second.'

"I think we had three real strong lines and a common goal to get the job done.

"Personally I think I had a decent season and I want to build on that and grow my game and bring some championships."

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Neumann, who had been looking at potential jobs in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria, said he had received some offers.

"A big part of my decision not to accept anything else was that I love Sheffield so much and know what I'm getting into.

"It is a great organisation, great team, there are good people around the team, a lovely group of fans, and it left me hungry for a championship."

Away from the Arena, players were housed in the Rockingham Street area of Sheffield city centre.

"I'm from Toronto and have lived in a city my whole life, so I am comfortable living in a busy area and I thought the set-up in Sheffield was awesome."