Adam Johnson death: Sheffield Steelers coach Aaron Fox on 'difficult and emotional' time
In his first public statement since a tragedy that has rocked the ice hockey world, Fox paid tribute to the outpouring of love his club, and the Panthers, have received, with both holding candlelight vigils on Saturday night.
Both teams’ games over the past weekend were postponed, with Sheffield returning to action this weekend (November 11/12) when they travel to Manchester Storm on Saturday night and host Coventry Blaze on Sunday.
In a statement on the club’s website, Fox wrote: “I just wanted to send our heartfelt condolences to the Johnson family, friends and also everyone at the Panthers organisation during this difficult time. You have all been in our thoughts this past week.
"To everyone who shared last weekend’s tragic events with us, whether it was in person or on the stream, I know how hard this week must have been for you all, and want you to know that you are in our thoughts and have the full support from inside our dressing room.
"We know there will be plenty of ups and downs during these next days, weeks, and months but know that we are all in this together regardless of what colour team you support.
"I’m extremely proud of how connected our group is at the moment. There’s tons of love, support, and plenty of tears that are being shared throughout our team and staff.
"We know that’s going to be something that isn’t going to go away and we will likely have for a long time moving forward.”
Fox confirmed the players had returned to practice late last week ahead of what will be a very emotional game at the Utilita Arena on Sunday.
"It’s been very difficult and emotional getting back onto the ice for the guys but I feel like it’s been an important step and our players have shown some real strength and courage during the last few days being back inside the arena,” continued Fox.
"Most of the guys have had multiple skates now which has been very positive but also know that each player and staff member is going through things on different timelines and that’s absolutely normal and OK. Each and every player has our full organisational support.
"There will be some difficult moments that we will need to overcome as a group and that won’t be easy.
"We appreciate all the support we have received and it’s helping and doesn’t go unnoticed so “Thank You” to all of you.
"I also know we won’t have 20 guys 100 per cent ready by Saturday and it will take us some time to get everyone as close to that number as possible.
"I also know that there’s tons of character and leadership in that room right now and it’s a real tight and close group. We have guys ready to support each other through this on and off the ice which for me has been very uplifting to see and gives me some real encouragement.”