TOM BARRASSO has assured Sheffield Steelers’ players they all start with a “clean slate” as he looks to find the winning formula needed to turn the club’s season around.
A calm, assured and confident Barrasso was unveiled to the media as the club’s new head coach at a press conference at Sheffield Arena yesterday morning.
The Steelers squad underwent a huge overhaul during the summer under previous coach Paul Thompson, who brought in 16 new faces following a trophyless campaign last time out.
Following a poor start to the season, Thompson resigned for “personal reasons” early last week, with a brief, caretaker spell in charge for player-assistant coach Mark Matheson ending with Barrasso’s appointment on Tuesday.
Goals have proved hard to come by this season for the Steelers, coupled with several disjointed performances. Thompson had already jettisoned two of his signings in the shape of twin brothers Matt and Ryan Rupert before his own, early departure.
Although some Steelers’ players may, in effect, be playing for their futures at the club, Barrasso – whose deal is until the end of the season – stressed that he hopes to achieve his reversal of fortunes without any further casualties.
He will spend the next week assessing each player before determining whether any new blood is actually needed, with owner Tony Smith confirming money is available for any changes suggested by former goaltender Barrasso.
“My message to the players in our first meeting was that they have all got a new lease of life,” said Barrasso, twice a Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early Nineties.
“It’s a fresh start for everybody and while I’ve heard much about what is wrong with the team, I’ve made it clear I will make my own evaluations on them.
“We’re not looking to make changes. We’re looking to get better with what we have.
That is the challenge I face and the challenge that the players face. It is their livelihood. If they want to be here they are going to have to buy in and perform how we are looking for them to.Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Tom Barrasso
“And that is the challenge I face and the challenge that the players face. It is their livelihood. If they want to be here they are going to have to buy in and perform how we are looking for them to.
“At the end of the day the players are looking to be successful, they are begging for an opportunity to be successful and my job is to instil the confidence they need to get back to how they are capable of playing.”
Barrasso gets his Steelers’ tenure off to a suitably testing start with tomorrow night’s trip down the M1 to face arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers.