There is always something exciting about the arrival of the first import of the season. You can count down in your diary but it isn’t the same as hearing that import number one has touched down in the UK – wow the season must be close!
New goalie Tyler Plante walked into Sheffield on Monday with his family all ready to start their new adventure as Steelers. He looked excited and he isn’t the only who should be.
We should be intrigued, for a start, about having a new team of coaches. Paul Thompson and his backroom staff have bought in half a team of new players. Those players will start the year playing in the Champions Hockey League - the best teams ever to play in Sheffield – how exhilarating is that?
Darrel Hay is ready. He might be an old experienced professional but this is a new start for him as Thompson’s assistant. The same applies to Danny Mawer, time for him to put into practise his beliefs and thoughts on how the Steelers will be fitter, faster and stronger.
We aren’t the only ones looking forward to the new campaign.
I think the players are too. Now players always look forward to the new season but I sense something different this year. I sense there is just a little bit of apprehension, good fear not bad fear, amongst this squad. They know the Thompson regime will be tough but will also be rewarding.
They will want to impress the new boss, they won’t want to be the ones left behind. They know that they will never have had a fairer boss who will go to bat for them when necessary but they also know that Thompson will be straightest coach they have played under. He doesn’t and he won’t pull any punches. He is the boss make no mistake, he is the team leader.
I’ve never know the players work so hard, so long and so diligently as they have this summer. 7am gym sessions, double sessions. They want to be ready come Monday when the training camp commences. It used to be that players used pre season as a time to get fit – those days have gone. The modern player is a machine come training camp, if they aren’t then they will be left behind and that summer work can never be caught up.
More than likely that player won’t see Christmas. The players overseas in Canada and America are speaking daily to the ones over here – they are expecting change, a new regime, they are on their toes and they are excited.
Veterans like Jeff Legue and Rod Sarich both have put incredible amounts of work into the new year, they are as excited as they were at the beginning of their career. If Roddy and Leggie can be excited then so can I and if I can be then you can be too.
I think there is a realisation from coaches, players, management and fans that the season ahead is going to be a special one. Every night a great game as all 10 teams in the league have upgraded and improved. That’s exciting that on any night any team could beat another.
There are six teams that could win the league, six. When have you ever known a league like that? Well you haven’t because there has never been a league like that. Well there is now, there is this year and people you should be excited.
The Elite League has reached the Superleague. In terms of ability, depth, talent, skill and experience. In terms of excitement.
I can’t wait folks...