PAUL THOMPSON freely admits he inherited a team bursting with quality when appointed as Sheffield Steelers’ head coach.
The 50-year-old took on an Elite League championship-winning team when he succeeded the controversially-sacked of Gerad Adams – understandably happy with what he’d been left with.
In all, 12 players who helped Steelers clinch their fourth regular season EIHL title are back for the 2015-16 campaign, with eight new faces signed in the summer.
But Thompson is determined to make sure this season’s Steelers are very much a team of his own making, something he thinks has already begun to happen as a result of their baptism of fire in the Champions Hockey League in Europe.
“The way I coach, I want a committed team, a blue collar team, a team that is going to roll its sleeves up every night,” said Thompson, whose team host Finland’s JYP Jyvaskyla to the Motorpoint Arena tomorrow for their first home game of the campaign.
“You have to say, for the most part, that is exactly what the Steelers did last year. That’s why they were successful and why they were league champions.
“Coming in I wanted to add a little more grit to the line up and I feel I’ve done that with (Zack) Fitzgerald, (Mike) Duco and (Levi) Nelson. I also wanted to maintain the speed of the team, maybe even improve that speed as well as the depth.
“The players that I did inherit I’m very happy with and, hopefully, we’ve built around them and improved other areas.”
Having lost their opening CHL match 9-1 to Gothenburg’s Frolunda, the Steelers went down 3-0 at Jyvaskyla last Saturday.
After returning home from their European adventure on Monday, the Steelers were finally able to get on to the Motorpoint Arena ice on Thursday, putting in a double on-ice session yesterday.
“It was good for the guys to get in here,” added Thompson.
“This building is a lot of the reason why guys signed for the Steelers – to play in the big building in front of thousands of fans.
“I want them to get the feel of the place before Sunday’s game. I don’t want this building to feel strange, I want it to feel like home.”