Sheffield Steelers’ boss Aaron Fox confident over recruitment despite further delay to 2020-21 Elite League season

SHEFFIELD STEELERS’ head coach Aaron Fox remains confident over recruitment for next season despite seeing the proposed start date for the Elite League’s 2020-21 campaign put back until early December.

EIHL bosses outlined their roadmap for a return to playing top-flight hockey on Tuesday night.

The league intend to start the campaign on December 5-6 with a new Magic 5 Weekend format staged at Nottingham’s National Ice Centre, with the regular season concluding on May 1-2 and the playoff final weekend two weeks later.

Any start date for the sport will, like everything else in the new Covid-19 world, be dependent on complying with the latest guidance from the UK Government and devolved administrations.

Sheffield Steelers' head coach, Aaron Fox. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Fox already has 14 roster spots filled for next season, having announced 11 names on a hectic day of signing activity two weeks ago.

The majority of players are returning from last season, with British-born defenceman Sam Jones the only new face so far.

The latest delay to the new season – EIHL bosses had originally hoped for an early October start date – is far from ideal, admits Fox, but he welcomed the clarity.

“It definitely helps having a game plan moving forward,” said Fox. “You still need some other stuff to go our way to be able to fulfil that. But it’s nice to have an idea, framework done and a path forward for sure.

Sheffield Arena is unlikely to see any hockey until early December at the earliest. Picture: Dean Woolley

“In terms of recruitment, it helps in the sense that when I’m talking to agents and players, they have an idea when they would have to get over and how long the season is going to be – the kind of variables that I wasn’t really able to give anyone before.

“We have a good group coming back and I know that I’ve got some holes to fill but I’m very confident that we will get that side of things right.

“The framework that has been put in place will hopefully come to fruition.

“But, as of right now, the safest way forward is to put it back to December and hope we can continue to stay on the right side of this.”

Sheffield Steelers celebrate their 2019-20 Challenge Cup success.

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