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VIDEO: Experienced Matheson becomes Thompson's right-hand man at Sheffield Steelers

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'SUPER intelligent' ... 'hard-working' ... 'widely respected'.

Once Sheffield Steelers head coach Paul Thompson decided to go down the route of having a player as his assistant for 2018-19, there was really only one option.

Mark Matheson returned to the UK a few days ago knowing he was going to be a lot busier in the months ahead than last time around when he impressed so much during his first season in the Elite League.

The 34-year-old defenceman was the second highest points scorer behind fellow defenceman Ben O'Connor, posting 11 goals and 51 assists in what was a generally frustrating 2017-18 campaign for the Steelers.

But it was clear from speaking to Thompson at various points through last season just how much he valued the Canadian blue liner in so many other ways, both on and off the ice - making him a shoo-in to be his new No 2 to succeed Swede Jerry Andersson, who returned home after two seasons behind the Steelers' bench.

"Mark is a guy who is very well respected in the locker room and knows what it takes every day to bring a positive performance," said Thompson. "He will have a big workload, but in the first couple of weeks it will be more of Mark the player as we drip feed him in to the coaching duties.

“I think we all know Mark is a super-intelligent and hard-working man, he can’t wait to get going and working with me and the team."

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH NEW ROLE: Defenceman Mark Matheson has been appointed as assistant coach to Sheffield Steelers' boss Paul Thompson. Picture: Dean Woolley.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH NEW ROLE: Defenceman Mark Matheson has been appointed as assistant coach to Sheffield Steelers' boss Paul Thompson. Picture: Dean Woolley.

As for Matheson, who has this week been working with the Steelers' new-look roster during pre-season training camp which started on Monday, he doesn't seem concerned about 'doubling up' on his duties during his second season in the UK.

"It was presented to me and was something I thought I could do a good job with," he said. "I’m looking forward to working alongside Thommo and gaining some experience with that role.
“My roles will be widespread, systems and the thinking of the game for sure but also pre-scouting on teams and players."

Matheson's first chance to try out his new role 'behind' the bench will be this weekend when the Steelers begin their pre-season operations in earnest with two exhibition games against a Leksands IF side containing former player Ben O'Connor, the 29-year-old making the switch to the Swedish Allsvenskan side in the summer after three-and-a-half seasons at Sheffield Arena.

Tickets are sold out for Saturday's game, but some remain for Sunday's rematch at Ice Sheffield (5pm).

HELPING HAND: Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Paul Thompson. Picture: Dean Woolley.

HELPING HAND: Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Paul Thompson. Picture: Dean Woolley.

GONE: Former Steelers' assistant coach, Jerry Andersson. Picture: Dean Woolley.

GONE: Former Steelers' assistant coach, Jerry Andersson. Picture: Dean Woolley.