There is no room for sentimentality in ice hockey - especially at the level Sheffield Steelers will be playing at on Sunday.
But coach Paul Thompson will be forgiven before facing off against Finnish giants YP Jyväskylä if he feels a sense of pride and déjà vu.
The last time he contested a game for Steelers at Sheffield Arena was on the blue line way back in 1993.
Now he finds himself running the team in the Champions Hockey League against one finest opponents Europe has to offer. “I am going to enjoy the moment” he said.
“After playing at iceSheffield I suddenly had that ‘Good God, I’m coach of Sheffield Steelers feeling’ - but iceSheffield wasn’t around when I was playing and the Arena had the magic of being the premier venue in Great Britain hockey.
“I won’t be nervous, but I will be excited. The Summer was a whirlwind so it will all kick in for me at the Arena on Sunday.”
Thompson will be supported by his assistant Darrell Hay, who patrolled the blue line last season for Steelers.
“Part of the reason why Darrell hasn’t played this season is that I wanted to build a relationship with him. He wasn’t brought here to shuffle pucks, he is here as someone who can teach and help the players.
“If there is something I don’t think is right I will over-rule him, but that not happened yet and I am really pleased with him. He is a very thorough man who scrutinises everything.”
Four players were rested from training after the last JYP, some for puck injuries after blocking shots, but all will be available on Sunday.
“I am thrilled with the attitude of the players.
“It is early yet, but you can normally see by now any chinks in the armour of individuals. But that hasn’t happened. We have a very structured coaching programme and they seem to understand how we want to do things.”
Wednesday 26th August
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