PAUL THOMPSON said player safety was paramount after seeing his bid to bring GB international Liam Stewart on board for Sheffield Steelers’ 2018-19 campaign thwarted.
The 23-year-old, son of rock star Rod, was all set to be unveiled by the Steelers in the coming days until a return of concussion-like symptoms saw him wisely take medical advice to take a year out of the game.
The former Coventry Blaze and Guildford Flames forward was seen as a key ingredient by head coach Thompson for the team’s hopes of lifting silverware next season, particularly after the Steelers’ boss passed on an opportunity to sign him last summer – a decision he regrets.
But, despite the obvious disappointment on both sides, Thompson said there was no doubt Stewart had taken the right decision.
“We’re gutted for him and we’re gutted for us because we talked a lot about his role and what he would bring to our team,” said Thompson. “He’s a young guy, another one that is on the up with great speed and tenacity. Jon Phillips and Liam would have been a great PK pair together for us and they would probably have played together on a line.
“But Liam’s health has to come first, that is paramount for any sportsman – you don’t mess around with the brain, it’s as simple as that. We were close to bringing Liam here last year and I hold my hands up because I should have – I made a mistake.”
Stewart, part of the GB team that won promotion from Division 1B last year, announced his decision via Twitter earlier this week, a move he felt necessary to make after a practice session involving on-ice contact saw his concussion-like symptoms return.
“I’m confident if I take the right approach now and follow the advice I’ve been given then I still have the chance of a full career ahead of me.”
Liam’s health has to come first, that is paramount in any sportsman – you don’t mess around with the brain, it’s as simple as that.Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Paul Thompson.