Paul Thompson has spelled out to his Sheffield Steelers players that their futures will be on the line if they continue to show inconsistency.
Before Sunday’s win over Cardiff Devils, the team had lost half of their previous eight games.
The coach was livid with the way they had surrendered a two-goal lead at Nottingham the night before and a previous four-goal advantage to Manchester.
“It wasn’t the opposition - we made things too easy” he said. “We were too easy to beat because we weren’t on the same page.
“We were Real Madrid for 30 minutes against Nottingham and then really bad.”
Interestingly, in the last eight games, there were half the number of hits and blocked shots compared to the first eight. So Thompson held individual talks and one with the whole group before Sunday’s 4-3 win.
He said: “I feel in the last eight games we haven’t solidified as a team. I was very frustrated; we had long, long meetings I challenged a few players. We don’t air our washing in public but a few home truths were said.
“I said to them: ‘This team won’t stand still.’ That’s the same for any player, import or Brit. If we don’t get a level of performance every week out of those players, we will look to make those changes.
“Like the good bunch of guys that we have, they took it on the chin. They didn’t hide in the corner, they didn’t whinge. They didn’t call me X, Y and Z. They went out and got the two points (against Cardiff) and that’s what I expect.”
Thompson added: “We conceded 10 goals in our first eight games, we conceded 31 in our last eight games. Our blocked shots was half of what it was. Our hits were 60 per cent down from what it was.”
But he said he was satisfied with player-response to his meetings - the team played a “hard-nosed game” against Devils especially when first-choice goalie Tyler Plante went off injured, to be replaced by rookie Brad Day.
Asked about the decision behind starting Plante, who was clearly in pain from the first moment due to a foot injury, Thompson said: “In the first period he made two or three key saves. We knew he wasn’t going to last the game. I didn’t know how long we’d get out of him. When that short-handed goal went in when he struggled to get down it was down to pull him. He was playing in pain for the team. That’s the way it is. But the Brad came in and I think the whole building energised our bench.”