HEAD COACH Gerad Adams admitted he was as “shocked and surprised” as anyone when he was sacked by Sheffield Steelers yesterday – just 30 days after leading them to the Elite League title.
Yesterday’s lunchtime announcement by Steelers’ owner Tony Smith will have stunned the club’s supporters, who also saw 36-year-old Adams deliver a play-off title last year, only two months after arriving in South Yorkshire to take over a struggling team which had failed to click under Doug Christiansen.
Despite spending the majority of his UK playing and coaching career at Cardiff Devils, Adams was already a hero for some Steelers’ fans before he returned as coach, having been part of the team which won the double in 2003-04.
His next move is anybody’s guess, although he said he was open to anything given the sudden nature of his unexpected departure.
“I was as surprised and shocked as anyone by it all,” said Adams last night. “The Steelers have made their decision and given their reasons, but I don’t agree with those reasons.
“You look at my track record in the 14 months I have been here and it doesn’t look too bad. There’s a play-off title, the league title and we also got to the final of the Challenge Cup and the play-off final again this year.
“It is what it is and I don’t intend leaving on bad terms but, in terms of the future, I’m open to anything right now.”
Smith acknowledged Adams’s achievements but went on to suggest that the club’s participation in the Champions Hockey League next season – where they will play teams from the top leagues in Europe – was behind what many will regard as a puzzling decision.
“We feel now is the right time to push forward and ensure we are known in all hockey circles as a great club,” said Smith.
“Our new head coach will be responsible for this. We will take the CHL seriously and want to build the foundations that ensure we are regular participants.
“This task requires experience in team and club management as well as coaching at a high level.
“Maybe it’s a culture change I am asking for. Modern-day sport requires a team of full-time professionals, on and off the ice.
If we’re going to give our players the best chance to win then we must back them off the ice and behind the scenes with the best staff available.”
Homegrown forward Sam Towner will return for Hull Stingrays for the 2015-16 Elite League campaign.
The Hull-born 20-year-old enjoyed an impressive 2014-15 season under rookie player-coach Omar Pacha, helping Stingrays finish seventh and reach the play-off finals weekend at the National Ice Centre.
Back in a Stingrays uniform for a fifth season, Towner posted 11 points (five goals and six assists) in 59 games last term.
“Sam made great strides last season and really improved his game,” said Pacha,
Towner joins Pacha, Carl Lauzon, Matty Davies, David Brown and Yan Turcotte on next season’s roster.