PAUL THOMPSON was looking for more physical presence from his forwards and believes he has got it with the signing late on Thursday night of Ryan Martindale.
The Steelers' head coach was seething after Wednesday night's 3-2 win after a shoot-out against Dundee Stars, blasting the seeming lack of willingness from some players to put their bodies on the line - at both ends of the ice.
With the arrival of 26-year-old centre Martindale - a third round draft pick and 61st overall for the Edmonton Oilers in 2010 - Thompson believes he has added some much-needed physicality up front, allied to an ability to put up decent numbers, as evidenced by a season in Denmark which saw the 6ft 3ins Canadian post a point a game for Esbjerg Energy.
Happy down the middle or on the wing, Thompson will initially utilise Martindale as a centre, although it will be a push to see him get to Sheffield in time for Saturday's home clash with Nottingham Panthers.
For Thompson, under growing pressure after the Steelers' stuttering start to the season, it is a case of finally getting his man, having tried unsuccessfully for the past two seasons to bring him to South Yorkshire.
Some have questioned how long Steelers' owner Tony Smith will tolerate poor performances similar to those cited by Thompson in recent weeks, but by granting the signing of Martindale, it would seem he is prepared to give his head coach time to improve matters on the ice.
“Ryan is a big body and while he can play centre or wing, we are signing him to play in the middle," said Thompson. “We will do everything possible to him to Sheffield as quickly as we can and it would be great to see him in the line-up for the weekend, although it’s too early to say if that can happen.
“I’ve tried to sign Ryan for the last couple of seasons, but we have kept a track on him as we believe he is an excellent impact player."
After his impressive year in Denmark, Martindale earned him self a deal with MsHK Zilina in Slovakia but, after posting nine points in 17 games, injury ended the rest of his season.
Thompson said Martindale - with more than 200 AHL games on his CV - has gone through extensive rehab and is fully recovered, adding: "Ryan has been skating four or five times a week and is now ready to come over and make his mark."
Unable to make the breakthrough to the NHL at Edmonton, Martindale initially plied his trade in the North American second tier with Oklahoma City Barons, before stints with San Antonio Rampage and Syracuse Crunch.