Ice hockey's shortest ever retirement? Rodders is back at Sheffield Steelers

Rod Sarich, retiring from, er, retiring.
Rod Sarich, retiring from, er, retiring.

Rod Sarich will break his 15-week ‘retirement’ from Sheffield Steelers and play in their Champions Hockey League games.

The 35-year-old veteran had said he was hanging up his skates after the club he’d served for 10 seasons won the Elite League championship.

But the Canadian - now settled in full time employment in marketing and living with wife Becky and 14-week old son Myles in Beauchief- has had second thoughts and will grace the Arena ice again.

After his initial decision to retire, coach Paul Thompson had told Sarich that there may yet still be opportunities for him. “Thommo had hinted at a new role, but I didn’t know what he’d got in mind,” said the former GB dual-international.

“There was a bit of back and forth communication and I thought it was such a good opportunity. The CHL is a bonus for all the guys who were in the league-winning team last year. Maybe there is also a sense of saying goodbye properly to the club, its fans etc. I also need to get back in shape!”

Thompson has suggested that Sarich may even stay longer.

But the defenceman said: “I really can’t and probably don’t want to come back full time. There are just too many other things going on. But the CHL will be a brilliant way to finish.”

Thompson said: “Going into the CHL its crucial we have the depth, especially on the back end. Rod and I spoke at the end of the year and he was happy with his decision to retire. He’s just had his first child and his life was full of non-hockey things.

“I spoke again in the summer and he was of the same opinion. Then out of the blue he called me, I think the thought of it all ending might have been eating away at him. “So we agreed this initial short term deal where he will be with us through the whole CHL period.

“I want his presence, knowledge and experience. After that who knows? Maybe he stays, maybe he decides retirement is for him and then we can give him the proper send off he deserves. Maybe there is a chance he remains in another capacity. The door is never closed to someone like him.”

Sarich has played 577 games for the Steelers.

He is fifth in the all time appearance ranking for the club scoring 81 goals, 360 points whilst collecting 648 penalty minutes.

Steelers on-ice training camp starts in early August with the club then playing two home exhibition games on the 13th and 14th against Danish Elite League side Aalborg Pirates at iceSheffield.

The club plays their two away fixtures in the Champions Hockey League in HV71 (Sweden) on Thursday 18th and against Red Bull Salzburg (Austria) two days later. Steelers’ home CHL fixtures are on Saturday 27th August against HV71 and then on September 12 versus Red Bull Salzburg. There will be an exhibition game in Manchester on September 3 and the first Challenge Cup game against Storm the following day.