A unique collaboration between football and ice hockey is being pioneered in Sheffield.
Sheffield Steelers’ coach Paul Thompson met Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins at the Arena on Sunday to compare working strategies - and it could be the start of an innovative working relationship.
The soccer boss reached out to Steelers - regarded as a role model for preparation and fitness in British ice hockey - to find out the inside track on how they go about their business.
Thompson said: “Nigel is new to the city and to ice hockey and just wanted to pop in and see how things work here. It was pretty cool meeting him - Nigel is clearly an open-minded type of bloke who wanted to see how we do things. I did a similar thing when I was at Aalborg (Denmark) visiting handball and football clubs to see if there was anything I could pick up. You never stop learning, at the end of the day we are in a similar business. The sports themselves may be different but we both manage young men who want to score more goals than the opposition!
“Nigel was quite surprised at the speed of hockey and seems to have loved the work-rate of both teams (Steelers and Manchester Storm.) Hopefully we can both take this forward and take a look at how our respective training regimes are handled” said Thompson.
“It would be great to see how Sheffield United do things - and I’d love the chance to see how Sheffield Wednesday do it too.”
Steelers have fans from both sides of the Sheffield soccer divide and would not want to seem partial to either club.
But there has not been a huge amount of cross-over with either the Blades or the Owls before - Neil Warnock and Danny Wilson used to be occasional visitors to the House of Steel - and the progressive Thompson relishes the prospect of more interaction.
Steelers host Belfast Giants in back-to-back games this coming weekend. The Irish side won 2-1 at Coventry Blaze on Sunday.