PAUL THOMPSON admits he had to make a “horrible” decision after deciding not to offer British forward Phil Hill a deal with Sheffield Steelers for the 2015-16 Elite League season.
But, the Steelers head coach has left the door open for the 33-year-old Welshman to play a part in the club’s debut Champions league European campaign, which starts ahead of the league schedule.
Hill joined the Steelers midway through the 2013-14 season after 14 years with Cardiff Devils.
After helping the South Yorkshire club win the play-offs last year along with his former Cardiff coach Gerad Adams, he was part of last season’s league championship winning team, contributing 15 points, including four goals, in 65 games.
But, try as he might, Thompson claims he can’t find room in his budget for Hill, who he has worked with previously when Great Britain coach.
“Sometimes you just have to make tough decisions in this job and this is one of those times,” said Thompson.
“I am forced to make decisions based on the budget available to me and where I feel that money is best spent.
“I’ve asked Phil if he would be interested in possibly playing for us in the Champions Hockey League. In an ideal world he would be in my top 12 forwards. But this is the horrible part of the job.”
Hull Stingrays, meanwhile, have signed Canadian forward Jeff Hayes for the 2015-16 Elite League campaign.
The 26-year-old, from Ontario, has spent the last five years in the CIS with Carleton University, posting 155 points (63 goals and 92 assists) in 150 regular-season and play-off games.
Before that he had five seasons in the OHL, icing for Guelph Storm and Oshawa Generals and totalling 98 points (43 goals and 55 assists) in 268 matches.
“Jeff is a really good and explosive skater,” said Hull player-coach Omar Pacha. “He has a really good release and is a hard worker. He is extremely good on face-offs, an area we struggled a bit last year.”