So the changes begin with the news on Wednesday that Paul Thompson had released forward Brady Ramsay and signed Finnish defencemen Mikka Franssila
The Franssila signing ends a six week search for a new blue-liner following the departure of Joonas Ronnberg. The general shortage of players both in Europe and North America is unprecedented and the Steelers had several attempts to bring a replacement thawted at the 11th hour.
Franssila has now arrived and will make his debut on Friday in Braehead before appearing at the Arena for the first time on Sunday against Belfast (face off 5pm)
The departure of Brady Ramsay shouldn’t have come as a major surprise. I know Brady received lots of lovely comments and supports on social media on Tuesday evening when the announcement was made.
“Ramsay wasn’t given a chance” seemed to be the message coming from the stands.
First thing first, what a top lad Brady is, he has left only friends here in Sheffield. The easy thing would have been to keep him as a spare import but who would of benefited from that?
When Ramsay came into the line up others played above him, in Europe for example Liam Kirk played more minutes. So Ramsay would have spent a year on the bench or in the stands thus meaning that he wouldn’t be eligible for a work permit next season should another club wanted his services.
The lad is 25, he needs to play and the Steelers spoke with other clubs prior to the announcement and secured a couple of job offers for Ramsay’s services.
This is the business of hockey, the Steelers need to get better and to do that they need to shuffle the pack. I’m pretty certain we haven’t seen the end of the arrivals coming in here as we try and compete in all competitions.
I spoke to Zack Fitzgerald and the good news is that he can now eat, but not a lot. He wants to get back but he and the club have to be sensible on this one. Fizzy had a bad knock.
We know how committed he is and how desperate he is to join his team mates in battle. There is no award for the bravest bloke in the trenches. As a club we have to look after our warriors and make sure its safe for him to return.
Good luck to the three Steelers apprentices who are in Dumfries this week at the World Under 20’s championships. Liam Kirk, Cole Sudra and Kieran Brown will all play their part.
Kirk and Sudra will also make the trip to Braehead on Friday to meet the rest of the team for the game in Glasgow against the Clan.
On Sunday they will be missing from the line up that will play Belfast.
The Giants will be without Spiro Goulakos who was suspended for three games by the league on Tuesday.
It was Goulakos you will recall that was at the centre of “Fretter-Gate” and it would have been interesting to see the reception he received from both the stands and the side.
Maybe it’s a good thing that he is out of the line for this game, defuse the whole situation.
I’m surprised though as the good people of Belfast repeated to me and many other Steeler fans on social media what an angel their player was.
Remarkable, then, he would get involved in another controversy and serious penalty!
Belfast could well be the surprise package in the title run in, they have played nearly the first half of the season on the road due to a lack of ice in their arena. After Christmas they are pretty much at home for the year.
This certainly gives them a nice advantage, or does it?
You see many of their games are home double headers thus removing the disadvantage of travel from their opponents.
Look back at the Giants record when playing teams at home back to back. I’ll make a little bet with you that their win percentage is less than it is for one off games.
Talking of Belfast, I’ll be heading over there for the game on the 24th February.
The only thing is that my self and three friends will be walking there from Sheffield.
You will recall that three years ago we did a similar thing from my home in Birmingham. We raised over £35,000 for the Amy Usher fund (Weston Park Teenage Cancer Unit.)
Well this time we have two great causes to support.
Once again we will donate half the money raised to Weston Park in Amy’s name. The other half will go to the young Belfast fan Blake.
Blake has become an inspiration to hockey fans all over the country in a similar way that Amy did.
Over 30 operations, over 50 hospital stays on top of that. The lad can’t take in water or food and is fed by a tube. This boy though only smiles and loves his Belfast Giants.
The Steelers are his 2nd team and we don’t mind that.
Blake recently went under major heart sugary and is getting stronger. He needs a new wheelchair and they cost, wait for it, £10,000.
Two huge games and a four point weekend is very much required by Paul Thompson’s side. See you at the Fly DSA (Sheffield) Arena for the 5pm start against the Belfast Giants and join me in welcoming Miika Franssila.