Sheffield Steelers overflowing with leadership potential

HEAD coach Paul Thompson admits he was spoilt for choice when it came to announcing his on-ice leaders for the forthcoming Elite League campaign.

Sheffield Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips, left, will be supported by Aaron Johnson, top right, Robert Dowd, centre and Evan McGrath, bottom right. Pictures: Dean Woolley.

Not surprisingly, Jonathan Phillips – the most successful captain in Steelers’ history – has been handed the ‘C’ again, as he prepares for his 13th season with the club.

Since his first season as a Steelers player back in 2006-07 when he wore the ‘A’, 36-year-old Phillips – already the all-time appearance record holder with 759 games for the club – has been captain for all but one of the subsequent campaigns, that coming in 2013-14 when he reverted to wearing the ‘A’ after head coach Doug Christiansen chose Steven Goertzen as captain instead.

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Supporting Phillips in the ‘A’ role this season will be GB team-mate Robert Dowd, as well as two new faces to arrive at the club this summer in the shape of former NHL defenceman Aaron Johnson and forward Evan McGrath, both of who have made the switch having played in Germany last season.

TOUGH DECISION: Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Paul Thompson. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“I feel that Jonno and Dowdy both know the club inside and out,” said Thompson “They know the background of the organisation and what we expect here. They are veterans of this club and respected figures so to ask them to be leaders once again wasn’t an issue

“Aaron Johnson has been a leader his whole career. His experience and quality shines through and you can tell instantly he is respected by his team-mates.

“Evan McGrath has impressed me since day one. Throughout the summer he was there when needed during the recruitment process. He has taken that on another step since we have hit the ice. He is a mature hockey player that is determined to do the right thing to help the Steelers win again.

“We are blessed I believe with many leaders, you could have given letters to many more in the room like Jordan Owens, Ryan Martinelli and Davey Phillips. The reality is you can only give out those we have and I’m delighted with our leadership group.”