he 33-year-old – who was in line to play for Great Britain at the recent World Championships in Slovakia before injury ruled him out – makes the switch to South Yorkshire following a successful season at Glasgow Clan, where he led the goalscoring with 33 goals in an overall tally of 75 points.
But the Steelers are gaining a player with plenty of attitude too, The Canadian-born centre's total of 252 penalty minutes from his two seasons in the EIHL with Glasgow and, before that, Belfast Giants proving he is a player more than happy to put himself in harm's way.Three years in Europe, combined with 21 games in the AHL, more than 300 appearances in the ECHL and the way he has easily taken to life in the UK top flight since joining the Giants in 2017 look likely to make him a prized asset for a club looking to return to winning ways after two barren campaigns.
"I really just like the attitude that he plays with to be perfectly honest with you," said Fox. "He’s one of those guys who was a top-five scorer two years ago, a top-10 goalscorer last year so you know he’s able to contribute on the numbers side of things.
"But just the energy and his attitude, the way he plays the game is something I think this group lacked last year. He holds himself accountable, he holds his team-mates accountable and that competitive side is what I really love about him. I think he’ll be a fan favourite here for that reason because he is the kind of player who will leave everything on the ice.
"All he cared about in the conversations I had with him was about winning - he’s ready to come in and help our team win and he will be a really good fit for us."
Fox already sees a more than ideal line-mate for Connolly in one of his other close-season signings, Marc-Olivier Vallerand, the pair having already played alongside each other at Greenville in the ECHL between 2010-13, where the pair were among the leading scorers before Connolly moved on to join Alaska Aces.
"He knows the pedigree here and he believed the message I was trying to get across to him," added Fox when asked how he convinced Connolly to make the switch from a team in Glasgow that finished three places above an underwhelming Steelers in last year's EIHL regular season standings.
"It really helped that we’d already got Vallerand on board . When they played alongside each other in Greenville they ran some really good numbers and had good chemistry - and they like other as well. Brendan was impressed with us having Vally on board and took that as a huge sign of what we’re trying to do here, so those two will start together, for sure."
Further signing news is expected next week from the Steelers, but one 2018-19 roster member who won't be returning is Josh McFadden, who has secured a contract with Landshut in Germany's third tier.
The 28-year-old defenceman from Guelph signed with the Steelers last summer, scoring six goals and 21 assists in 51 appearances.