Mike Duco - who iced 18 games in the NHL with Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks - has become the final piece in Sheffield Steelers’ offensive jigsaw for season 2015-6.
He was the top penalty taker and third highest scorer for Indy Fuel in the East Coast Hockey League.
Steelers hope Duco will have the feistiness of ‘The Duke’ - the nickname for one of the club’s favourite sons, Tommy Plommer (1992-200.)
The 27-year-old Toronto born left winger/centre was captain at Fuel and is expected to be a tenacious leader on the Arena ice.
It is now crystal clear that Steelers will have a meaner and more nasty streak next season than they had last. The challenge for coach Paul Thompson will be to combine that with sensible physicality, offensive output and consistency. Duco, who played 280 games in the AHL, was recommended to Sheffield by Thompson’s former captain Sylvain Cloutier.
“Mike has recent NHL experience and is a proven AHL winger with a near 20 goal season behind him in the ECHL” said the coach. “Last season he showed he also has excellent leadership skills captaining a young Indy side to within four points of the playoffs” said Thompson.
“The common theme when seeking references is that Mike is a fierce competitor who can play in all situations. He has a hunger to win and a scoring touch to match. He has been a great penalty killer throughout his career to date and is also a super net presence on the powerplay. He may only be 5’10 but we have signed a guy who plays like he is 6’4.”
Duco said: “I did my homework and found players I knew that had either played for or against Sheffield. I want to play on a team that wants to win and lay it on the line. Feedback from the players I spoke to was that Sheffield demands that every year.”
Duco added: “The Champions Hockey League too was a draw. You want to play against the best and challenge yourself. I look at our roster and like what I see. I think we may just surprise a few people.”