A rare insight into the mind of Sheffield Steelers’ Tom Barrasso – ice hockey coach and family man

Tom Barrasso has given a rare insight into how his mind ticks - and he makes reference to how his thinking is influenced by the cancer battle endured his daughter.

By Bob Westerdale
Monday, 4th March 2019, 7:05 am
Updated Monday, 4th March 2019, 7:07 am
Tom Barrasso,  in the locker room
Tom Barrasso, in the locker room

The American coach, who spends large sections of the year apart from his family, has been professionally driven by the need to improve his Sheffield Steelers team – one which was hammered 6-0 on Sunday at Cardiff Devils.

Sometimes, Barrasso is a difficult man to read, such is his apparent, single-minded concentration on the protocols and processes involved in getting the best out of a team he didn’t assemble in the first place.

Barrasso, in fact, may be reaching the end of his reign at Steelers, with the League season close to its culmination.

So it was interesting to hear the father of three’s reaction when asked a question referring to two of his players. Quizzed on whether he felt aggrieved at recent officiating and disciplinary decisions against Jordan Owens and Tanner Eberle he said: "No, they are totally out of my control.

"I am a man who has got a 31-year-old daughter who has had cancer twice, and that was out of my control.

"And some of this is out of my control, so I try not to worry about it too much.

Tom Barrasso, in the locker room

"I try to stay focused on whatever it is that I have to do next and do it to the best of my abilities.

"To stand there and get upset about these things is not helping our team get any better so I try and stay focused on my task at hand."

Ashley Barrasso spent her childhood in and out of hospitals as she battled neuroblastoma. The first time at 18 months and again at 12 years old, according to the Pittsburgh Foundation charitable foundation.

The coach was philosophical about the scale of Sunday’s capitulation in Wales. And you sensed his admiration for the champions who laid waste to his side.

Cardiff Devils celebrate agoal against Sheffield

“We were totally outplayed by a superior team” he said. “They generated scoring chances at will in the first period. It was impressive to watch. We had no answer to their game.”

*Barrasso’s hockey responsibilities this week centre on two-weekend games ahead with Fife Flyers, who have hovered around Steelers in the standings for weeks.

Barrasso rates them as "probably a bit more dynamic offensively" than his own side.

"But I like our games that we have played against them, they have all been fairly close fought,” he said.

Tom Barrasso: controlling the controllables

"We haven't seen them in quite a while so it will be a good refresher for this week getting prepared..we almost treat this like a little bit of a play off series when you have a back-to-back with them."

Barrasso admitted his team was waking a "tenuous rope" heading towards the Play Offs and stressed how important home form was going to be.