Whistle initially signed a two-year deal with the club last summer after switching from Elite League rivals Belfast Giants, playing 56 games for the club during which he facing 1,686 shots with a save average of 89.92 per cent and a goals-against-average of 3.21.
But he was told by head coach Fox that he was likely to have a reduced role this season with the Steelers’ boss keen to bring in at least one import netminder. That will likely now be two imports sharing the goaltending duties, with Fox keen to avoid fatigue among either of his back-stoppers.
GB international Whistle has quickly joined another EIHL rival after it was announced on Friday night that he would be joining Nottingham Panthers.
“I understand that we put Jackson in a difficult spot and he had an extremely difficult decision to make,” said Fox.
“Obviously, he felt like there was a better opportunity out there for him and there are no hard feelings from my end.
“Unfortunately, this is the hard side of the business, but we felt bringing in an import goalie was what was critical in achieving our goals and in the best interest of the club moving forward.
“We will shed some more light on the position in the next week but we will now be bringing in two import goalies to compete and help lead us into the season.”
Panthers’ director of hockey Guillaume Doucet, said: “To pick up a Brit like Jackson Whistle at this stage of recruitment is incredible.
“He’s coming in to back-up Kevin Carr but as a genuine starter in this league he’ll be chomping at the bit for ice-time and that internal competition can only be good for us throughout the season.
“We’ll really see the benefit of a British netminder like Jackson, who’s capable of starting big games, in competitions like the Continental Cup where we have three games in three nights.”