PHIL Hill believes Sheffield Steelers have landed the ideal man to help them salvage something from a dismal season.
The 31-year-old British forward headed north from Cardiff Devils before new Steelers’ coach Gerad Adams, who was announced on Thursday as head coach until the end of the season. But he is pleased to be reunited with a man he played under for more than six years in south Wales.
Hill was jettisoned by Cardiff last October – against Adams’s wishes – but the coach also found himself on his way later in the campaign before agreeing to step in and replace the ousted Doug Christiansen at the Motorpoint Arena.
GB international Hill has impressed since returning to the club he played for in 2006-07 and believes Adams – himself a former Steelers player between 2003-05 – can also win over the Steelers’ faithful by leading the club to a first piece of silverware since the league championship under former player-coach Ben Simon in 2011.
“I think it’s a great move for the club,” said Hill.
“He’s coming to a team with lots of high-end talent, that is expected to win and operating on perhaps a bigger budget than he’s ever had to work with before. I think both the team and him are looking forward to it.
“He has helped my career no end. I’ve found as a player that he always got the best out of me, he tries to give every player confidence. Yes, he can be tough on guys but, as a player, you want to play for him.
“Obviously it’s not his team, he didn’t recruit this team, but going into the play-offs you look at our depth and you look at the talent we’ve got and I think there is no doubt we can be there or thereabouts.
To listen to Phil Hill on Gerad Adams’s appointment by Sheffield Steelers click HERE
“The expectations are to win that final game in Nottingham (at the play-offs) and that will be the goal for both ‘G’ and the team.”
Adams is relishing his opening weekend as Steelers coach, taking his new charges into the National Ice Centre tonight to face Nottingham Panthers before returning to home ice to face his former club Cardiff.
If Adams somehow manages to transform an inconsistent Steelers into play-off winners, he will surely be rewarded handsomely by owner Tony Smith, who fired Christiansen less than halfway into his two-year deal.
But Adams insists he is only focused on the next few weeks, regarding anything after that as an unwanted distraction.
“I think we’ve got a serious chance of winning the play-offs,” said Adams. “We have such a talented team here in Sheffield, we just need to realise that potential.
“To have one eye on next year would take away from the mental approach of the players for the here and now. So if I do well, the way I know I can and I perform well over the next few weeks, next year will take care of itself.”
Former coach Finnerty says Adams is just what Steelers need
FORMER Sheffield Steelers coach Ryan Finnerty believes Gerad Adams is the ideal appointment for his old club.
Finnerty forged a strong relationship with Adams when playing as his captain at Cardiff Devils during a memorable 2010-11 season when they were pipped to the Elite League title by the Steelers only because the South Yorkshire club had registered more regulation wins during the course of the campaign.
Finnerty’s interest in coaching was encouraged by Adams in south Wales before the centreman was persuaded to return to the Steelers to take over the reins from the departing Ben Simon.
It may have proved a barren two seasons in charge at Sheffield for Finnerty, his teams twice suffering first-round play-off exits before he was axed by owner Tony Smith last year, but it has not stopped his progress as a coach, with his Braehead Clan team a realistic contender to deprive Steelers of the runners-up slot in the overall league standings.
And while his interests firmly lie north of the border these days, he beleives his former club can only prosper under his former coach.
“He’s a respected guy and a players’ coach,” said Finnerty, “I think he is what they need in Sheffield at the moment and I think the players will respond and I think he’ll make them a better hockey team.
“They’re a dangerous side now. Obviously, Doug Christiansen had built a strong team there, they are extremely deep and they are tough to beat on the best nights.
“But I think ‘G’ will go in and maybe the guys will play with a little more freedom and whether that translates to wins we’ll have to see but he is the right guy for the job.
“I don’t think he deserved to be out of a job in this league in the first place - so I think Cardiff’s loss is definitely Sheffield’s gain.”
To listen to Ryan Finnerty’s thoughts on Gerad Adams’s appointment by Sheffield Steelers click HERE