Defenceman Mark Thomas admitted he was forced to make his toughest-ever decision after deciding to bring an end to his time with Elite League champions Sheffield Steelers.
The 31-year-old will play for hometown club Manchester Phoenix in the EPL next season, the part-time set-up allowing him to explore working options outside of hockey which he would find difficult at full-time Steelers.
Thomas made more than 580 appearances for the Steelers after joining in the middle of the 2005-06 season from London Monarchs, going on to win three regular season league titles, three play-off trophies and a British Knockout Cup.
“It’s been the toughest of decisions,” said Thomas.
“I have loved every second of being here and it’s so tough to walk away. But I am older and new challenges wait ahead of me.
“I have to look to the future and as a married man with two kids, the future is in Manchester and I guess working in what they call the real world.”
News of Thomas’s departure will barely have sunk in for some Steelers fans, however, before they were met this morning with news of Paul Thompson’s first import signing since becoming head coach at the South Yorkshire club.
Thompson has moved quickly to bring in Canadian defenceman Russ Moyer, the 32-year-old finishing last season by helping Swedish Allsvenskan side Karlskrona gain promotion.
“I coached against him two years ago and was impressed with him,” said Thompson. “Also Russ played for my former club in Aalborg and the feedback I received there was again excellent.
“We have signed a very good and experienced player that we will add to an already very competent back end.”
Moyer, whose wife has applied for schooling in Sheffield, added: “I’d like to think I am a good, complete, all around D-man.
“In the past I was asked to play a more offensive role, while last season a more defensive part in our teams play. I learned and think I play a pretty complete game right now.
“I’d certainly like to think I will add some points for the team during the year.”