Video: How Sheffield Steelers’ fans, fitness coach Danny Mawer and a hunger for silverware brought Anthony DeLuca back
Anthony DeLuca wouldn't be coming back if he thought next season would be a replica of last.
Sheffield Steelers ended in lowly, seventh place, 28 points behind league champions Belfast Giants.
But with Aaron Fox launching a recruitment mission as new coach, DeLuca is confident the Steelers’ ship can be turned around.
Asked if Sheffield could close the gap of Belfast and Cardiff Devils next term, the 24-year-old forward replied: "I don't think I would be coming back if that wasn't the case.
"We want to put a competitive team on the ice and I think Aaron will be able to do that.
"Obviously this year didn't go exactly how we wanted.
"But I think we showed we could compete with some of the top teams and beat them from time to time but we don't want to be in that same boat next year.
"We want to be that top team that people are trying to beat every night."
DeLuca, who has signed a new one year deal with the club, was particularly pleased by the way fans had demonstrated that they wanted him to return, via social media and at the rink.
"I really love it here, the fans are a big part of that" he said.
"I am the type of guy that I play better once I'm comfortable and fans and guys in the room really helped with that.
"That campaign was pretty cool, seeing on Twitter every day that they wanted me back...helped me come back.
Having a club commit to him means he can come in for the season in strong physical shape.
"It is very different once you are comíng back to the same team" said the Canadian.
"I give a lot of praise to Danny (Mawer; conditioning coach) he is the one that got me in shape this year and he worked with me a lot and he has done a hell of a job with me.
"I am glad that we are going to be working together throughout the Summer, through heart-rate monitor and applications on our phones.
"Everything will be tracked so he will know exactly what I will be doing and obviously I want to do better for myself and the team so if I cheat myself nothing is getting better."
The winger said Mawer – who played for Sheffield Spartans three years ago – was a "huge" influence on the team.
"We are extremely lucky to have him.
"I think the guys know that he works hard - honestly, he's probably the hardest working guy on the team."
*Sheffield Arena hosts a GB v Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod friendly on Sunday (4pm)