Simmsey column: Sheffield Steelers coach and players should show their ‘dark’ side

Paul Thompson running the bench  - he needs to revert to type, says Simms
Paul Thompson running the bench - he needs to revert to type, says Simms

I’ve been accused of many things over the years; they say I am old school, no niceties, straight to the point, get the job done whatever it takes.

This week the Steelers have to forget the niceties, they have to return to the old school ways and do whatever it takes to ensure that their performances improve in the road games against Dundee and Cardiff and then at home against Fife on Sunday.

Last Sunday’s performance against Belfast was unacceptable on many levels. I’m ok if we lose a game after leaving everything we have on the ice. I’m OK if we get beaten by a better side. I do feel it along with others if we get out-worked though.

Now I differ from many who are on the Steeler-knocking bandwagon. You see I don’t accuse any of the players of not trying and not working hard, they are all giving us everything they have. However, as we have seen on many occasions over the years to win, to become a winner you have to do more than give everything you have, you have to go that extra mile, win that extra battle and to be honest I’m not seeing every guy doing that.

There are exceptions, Dowd, Nelson, Fretter, Fitzgerald and the captain Jonathan Phillips are beyond reproach.

The biggest issue is that we have too many guys simply out of form. That is multiplied when those guys are four of your top seven forwards.

Now, I’m a respect guy and I think it is downright disrespectful to go after Mathieu Roy. I am chairman of the King’s fan club. Here is a man having a tough time, he needs our support as we need him back firing on all cylinders. We need him probably more than he needs us.

I think there are signs that this form is coming back, three goals in the last four games.

Roy is old school, an in-the-trenches guy. It’s how he plays and the only way to get him back is to put him out there, exposed and let him work it out himself. We are the Steelers, we respect those that go to war for us.

The easy thing is to just say “ship them out” because of course there are dozens of 40-goal AHL forwards looking to come here isn’t there?

Will there be changes? Well I’d be surprised if there weren’t however what we need to do is to work with our group, make them better so that they reproduce form showed at the start of the year.

My own view however is the way we do that is by reverting to type, throwing away the manuals and working just even harder. Old school methods.

Of course I back Paul Thompson, I know him better than anyone. I’d want him leading my troops in a battle. He has to revert to type as well. This isn’t a time for corporals, sergeants and captains. This is a time for Generals and he is a leader of men.

He won’t have been popular on Monday as he cancelled his side’s day off but as a senior player said to me later that evening: “We have to take our licks and our punishment. What we’re serving up isn’t good enough”

I don’t see a bad man inside that room. I see good people who care. Good people who want to succeed. It’s time now though for some of them to show some true character and mental toughness.

Jody Lehman, Dion Darling, Scott Allison, Mike Peron, Guillaume Desbiens and Jason Hewitt all had a darker side, a nasty streak in them. Great guys when the times was right and the reverse when it was needed.

I don’t know any person with a stronger, darker and nastier side than Paul Thompson. It’s time for him and those inside the room to show their’s right now.

How can we go from those words above to a Teddy Bear Toss – only in hockey! This Sunday against Fife the Steelers have joined forces with Hallam FM “Mission Christmas” as they try and provide over 20,000 local kids with a present on the big day.

Sheffield we ask you to support us and the appeal by bringing a Teddy Bear or soft toy.

Please wrap it in a clear plastic bag so it gets through Arena security and then launch it on to the ice after the Steelers score their first goal against the Flyers on Sunday (Arena, 5pm)

*A quick mention to the following Wednesday, the second leg of the Challenge Cup quarter final Vs. Dundee.

Its going to be a really special night with all tickets priced at just £5 - a great way to start Christmas as the boys need a win to make the semi finals of the Cup.

One final point Sheffield. These are our boys. They wear our shirts. They are our team. Everyone inside and outside the club knows we are struggling right now. Our opponents and critics will be loving us suffering some pain after all of these years of success.

Let’s not point the guns inwards, let’s point them outwards. Let’s be old school. Let’s show our teeth. We are Steelers – remember that.