Why Sheffield Steelers' latest signing was bad news for Nottingham Panthers as well as Glasgow Clan

Brendan Connolly's decision to sign for Sheffield came as a considerable blow not only to his last employers Glasgow Clan - but also to Steelers's big domestic rivals Nottingham Panthers.

By Bob Westerdale
Thursday, 06 June, 2019, 10:44
Former Belfast Giants' man Brendan Connolly shoots at Sheffield Steelers two seasons ago

Nottingham went hard after the 33-year-old goalscorer and were in the running right up to the point that coach Aaron Fox clinched the EIHL battle for his favours.

Zack Fitzgerald, the former Steelers' defenceman now coaching at Glasgow, tried everything he could to persuade Connolly to stay, too.

But Fitzgerald's senior appointment at Braehead perhaps came a shade too late as Connolly's mind was made up.

Clan enjoyed just one season out of him - after they had taken him from Belfast Giants the previous Summer, a switch that raised eyebrows, at the time.

There were suggestions Connolly and Giants' coach Adam Keefe had not seen eye to eye, although the prolific centreman did help them win lift Challenge Cup.

Keefe, after signing Connolly, had initially described him as "a real exciting player to watch.

Action from Glasgow Clan v Sheffield Steelers at Braehead Arena on ,23 December 2018, Picture: Al Goold (www.algooldphoto.com)

"He is a fierce competitor who will be a thorn in the side of everyone who he plays against.

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"He is fast, highly skilled and can play wing or centre which will help us have some versatility throughout the lineup” Keefe said.

In his next berth in Scotland, Connolly impressed Clan fans as well as team-mate Fitzgerald who has since admitted: "Brendan was someone we really wanted back for 2019/20.

“We had offered him a new contract, however he has informed us that he has decided to pursue a new opportunity away from the Clan.

“We’d like to wish Brendan and his wife Alicia all the very best for the future."

Fitzgerald admitted it had been "very disappointing news to digest" for Purple Army fans.

Canada-born Connolly, whose father was born in Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland, qualifies for a Great Britain call-up.

He was named in the squad by GB boss Pete Russell in March, for the first time.

But within a few days he suffered a nasty knee injury in the 4-2 Clan win away to Fife Flyers meaning he missed out of an almost certain trip to the World Championships Group A pool in Slovakia.