Unsettled Shields bids farewell to Steelers

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BRITISH forward Colin Shields insists his decision to quit Sheffield Steelers is nothing personal – simply that it wasn’t the “right fit”.

The 32-year old GB international said his decision to move on after less than three months at the club was down to him “not settling”, leaving him with no option, he felt, but to move on.

Shields admitted he hadn’t been consistent enough since being enticed back from his one season in France by the Steelers and wanted to do the right thing for both himself and the club who had placed so much faith in him as one of their pivotal signings for the 2012-13 campaign when they unveiled him before their last season’s play-off quarter-final exit to Hull Stingrays.

“It’s just one of those things where it hasn’t worked out for me,” said Shields, who scored 30 points in as many games with the Steelers, including 14 goals. “It happens a lot in hockey.”

“It’s hard to explain and I can understand some people might be frustrated. But I felt it was best to move on rather than hang around just picking up a pay cheque. It’s not a case of me falling out with anyone, simply about me not fitting into the team.

“I feel like I’ve had really good week’s and then it’s not gone so well the following week – it’s been very up and down. But I’ve no regrets about coming here, it’s just not been the right fit.”

Shields said he had no plans as to his next move and has had no contact with other Elite League clubs. A return to Europe and possibly France where he played last season is a possibility, as is a return to Belfast Giants where he has previously spent four successful years.

“I’m not going to rush into any kind of decision,” added Shields. “I want to get back playing as soon as possiblebut it’s just a matter of waiting to see what is out there.”

Head coach Ryan Finnerty, who tore into his players and said he was “embarrassed” following Saturday night’s shock 2-1 home defeat to Elite League bottom club Edinburgh, said Shields’s decision to quit came as a surprise.

“It came out of the blue,” said Finnerty, “We spoke after the game (in Coventry on Sunday) and he advised me that he hadn’t been happy for a while and wanted to move on.

“Neither the club or myself want any player to be unhappy here so we are happy to wish him well.

“There is a pressure in Sheffield to win. It’s not the easiest place to play your hockey. Our go-to-guys have to be go-to-guys.

“We have expectations and goals for everyone on the team. Some players haven’t achieved theirs and it’s my job to come down hard where necessary.”

Finnerty said young British forward Lee Esders – a player he has regularly praised since becoming coach – would now be given an opportunity to step up and fill the gap left by Shields’s unexpected departure.

“Lee deserves a shot in our top nine,” added Finnerty. “Mybe there is an argument that he deserved this shot a while ago.

“And now we have budget available now to bring in a replacement should one become available that we believe will make us a better side.”