Simmsey column: Desi and the Brits are Sheffield Steelers core strength

Jerry Andersson
Jerry Andersson

So this morning the Steelers confirmed that Guillaume Desbiens was the latest addition to their squad for next season, this after signing a new two-year contract with head coach Paul Thompson.

Desbiens is pivotal for Thompson’s building plan, you talk about recruiting a core group well Desbiens is the core of the core group.

We saw in the play offs his importance, did we have a better player over those eight days of madness?

I don’t think so.

Every great club has that core group of players. For so long Messrs Thomas, Hewitt and Phillips, that was a different kind of core group.

That was a ‘police-the-dressing-room-and-here-is-the-DNA-of-our-club’ group.

Sheffield Steelers' players celebrate Guillaume Desbiens goal against Cardiff Devils.

Sheffield Steelers' players celebrate Guillaume Desbiens goal against Cardiff Devils.

Phillips of course remains and he has passed that DNA on to the likes of Desbiens, Fitzgerald, Nelson and Roy, all returning for third and fourth seasons.

The British DNA runs through our club.

Jerry Andersson mentioned to me driving back from the play off victory in Nottingham “Our Brits love Hockey.” I replied “of course they do Jerry we all do.”

Andersson went on: “No, David, they are the first on the ice, Dowdy, Benny, Luke, Davey, Jonno. They are the last off, you have to drag them off. Then they stay at the rink after. They don’t miss games do they, look at the numbers.” Jerry was right

Those five players missed three league games between them all last season, Dowdy Jonno and Benny all missed one. Davey and Luke played all 52.

“I love those guys” Andersson went on. “You win with a core of good people like them.”

Jerry was correct, you do and the core has been a Steelers’ strength through this successful last few years.

Yes good players returning but more importantly good people who know our values as a club and as a team and ensure that new players coming in to that locker room buy into the Steelers way, just like guys such as John Armstrong, Anders Franzon and Yared Hagos did.

The core is now signed and sealed.

Steelers will make two further signing announcements next week. Then the rebuilding. The filling in of the gaps.

Thompson will make offers to existing Steelers on top of those already signed as he juggles the figures to try and work out how best to spend Tony Smith’s money.

The big tick was of course Ervins Mustukovs agreeing to a new deal and confirmed on Tuesday.

You breath a massive sigh of relief when you sign a goalie, the most important position on the team. Moose gives you a chance night in and night out.

Thompson’s hasn’t got a rebuilding job this summer like say Cory Neilson has in Nottingham but he has to fine tune. He has to tinker not dismantle. He does have to improve all areas and he knows that, he knows that Cardiff, Nottingham and Belfast will be throwing the kitchen sink at it ahead of next August.

So on his birthday, welcome home Desi.

Two more years of him patrolling up and down the wing at the Arena will do for me and I’m sure a lot of you.

Pre season looks like fun; here’s our four exhibition games at iceSheffield against top clubs.

Saturday 12th August - Sodertalje sk (Sweden) 7pm

Sunday 13th August - Sodertalje –5pm

Saturday 19th August – Nurnberg Ice Tigers (Germany) 7pm

Sunday 20th August – Nurnberg 5pm

Tickets for the games go on sale on Friday 21st April from Sheffield Arena Box Office at 9am.

Now some other clubs in the UK have signed up for games against German clubs, 10th, 11th and 12th place clubs in the DEL – we got their third place Ice Tigers who also went to the semi finals in the play offs.

They are of course coached by DEL Coach of the Year Rob Wilson, remember him?

Sodertalje are one of the classic Swedish teams one of the great Scandinavian clubs – what a pre season, what four games against such talented opponents. Tickets on sale tomorrow, four guaranteed Ice Sheffield sell outs I think.

Doesn’t stop in Steeler land does it?