ESTABLISHING early chemistry and form will be key to Sheffield Steelers’ hopes of breaking the stranglehold of Elite League rivals Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils next season, according to new head coach Aaron Fox.
It is over two years since the Steelers last lifted any silverware, their memorable 6-5 win in overtime against Cardiff at Nottingham’s National Ice Centre their most recent high.
Having waved goodbye to coaches Paul Thompson and Tom Barrasso since then, 43-year-old Fox has been drafted in to turn around the South Yorkshire club’s fortunes, combining coaching and GM duties.
The American brings with him four years ‘ experience of working as sporting director in the KHL for Croatia’s Medvescak Zagreb, a team which he also ended up coaching for around 12 months before he departed after six eventful years last December.
Fox is steadily piecing together his roster for the 2019-20 EIHL campaign, last week adding Swedish defenceman Jonas Liwing.
But, despite preparing to embark on his first taste of top-flight UK hockey, Fox is not coming in blind, fully aware of what needs to be done in order to rein in the two teams who have dominated the league and its competitions for the past two seasons.
“If you looked at Cardiff’s line-up at the play-off final weekend you couldn’t tell who was their first or second line,” said Fox.
“They have a 1A and a 1B and their 3rd line is like their second line – that is the type of depth we need to create here.
We need some high-end guys that are going to produce like top-six guys need to on a nightly basis. So we need to build up that depth and establish some chemistry early onSheffield Steelers’ head coach Aaron Fox
“We need some high-end guys that are going to produce like top-six guys need to on a nightly basis. So we need to build up that depth and establish some chemistry early on because a two-and-a-half week training camp isn’t a long time and we’ll have a bunch of new faces.
“I’ve always been part of an organisation that has been building for the play-offs at the end of the season, but here, in the EIHL, you need to be ready from day one because it is all about the regular season and you can lose that regular season title in those first 10 games.”