Now, the 37-year-old GB international is set to lead his team out for a 12th campaign after head coach Aaron Fox decided there really was only one suitable candidate.
Except for his first season under Dave Matsos and the anomaly that was the 2013-14 campaign which saw Doug Christiansen ‘demote’ Phillips to alternate captain in order to hand import forward Steven Goertzen leading man status, Phillips has led the Steelers throughout his time in South Yorkshire.
Since Fox first arrived in Sheffield back in April, he quickly built a relationship with the Steelers’ core group of players, with Phillips understandably a key figure and immediately impressing his new boss.
“Jonno was the clear choice for the captaincy,” said Fox. “As a coach you couldn’t ask for a better leader. He’s one of those guys who leads by example and does everything the right way. On the ice, in the weight room and away from the rink.”
And while it is business as usual in terms of the Steelers’ ‘C’, Fox has taken a slightly different approach to his choice of alternate captains, opting for a different pairing for home and away games - a clear nod to the added experience populating the club’s roster in comparison to last season.
The two players assisting Phillips at Sheffield Arena will be fellow GB international forward Robert Dowd and new defenceman, Aaron Brocklehurst, with forwards John Armstrong and Brendan Connolly replacing them on the road.
“All these guys are true pros’ and bring different positives to the table,” explained Fox. “With the veteran group we have, they all will play a big part in our success this year and are all absolutely ‘team first’ guys.”
The Steelers are in action this Saturday at the Fly DSA (Sheffield) Arena in a £5 all-ticket game against MAC Budapest. It will be their last scheduled warm-up game ahead of the season opener in the Challenge Cup the following weekend against Nottingham Panthers.