Simmsey's Sheffield Steelers column: Tim Wallace goes to Milton Keynes while we get the import we want

Evan McGrath
Evan McGrath

So the Steelers beat off the likes of Nottingham, Belfast and Manchester for the signing of Evan McGrath.

Some signings happen quickly and some take several weeks, this was the latter with Paul Thompson first speaking with McGrath back in April.

The two went back and forth with both parties playing hardball and examining all of their options.

Paul stayed on the case, determined to land McGrath.

He wanted some 'hockey IQ' and experience in the position of centre, some experience around the young pups the club have already signed.

McGrath is what Thompson calls one of his “top six” and whilst he has been pleased with all of his signings to date I get the feeling this is the one that has tickled his fancy the most. Paul’s patience doesn’t normally run to the length of time this signing took therefore that suggests he is just the player he wanted.

Tim Wallace

Tim Wallace

More signings have taken place this week, in fact the club now is only looking for four more players to complete their roster for the new year.

Those of you good at maths will then realise that Thompson has made four more signings yet to be announced, I’m sure one if not two will be confirmed next week including our first non North American import signing for this new team.

One defencemen and three forwards are required.

The recent rush of signings takes the intense pressure off, when you are looking for eight, nine or 10 guys you do feel the need to sign and to sign quickly.

Now we can be a little patient on these last few guys.

These have to be the right people to complete the jigsaw that has so far been methodically been put together.

It's fixtures time.

As we speak I am sat at the lunch break of the fixtures meeting.

I chair it and we have just got past the Christmas dates by lunchtime so I’m pretty happy, it's going ok so far.

With 11 teams it has been more difficult but so far the dates for all the teams are looking good.

Sheffield have a couple of good road trips to Belfast and Scotland planned.

The dates will be made public mid to late July. Also the Sheffield v Nottingham Boxing Day game will this year not take place in Sheffield.

Its Nottingham away on the 26th and Sheffield v Nottingham on the 27th.

SIV, the Arena and the Steelers made a real big deal of their new five-year agreement at the end of last year.

This fixtures meeting is the first big test to see if an improvement has been made, all I can say is that so far our dates look good and an improvement.

Whilst on the new agreement with the Arena, our owner Tony Smith advised me yesterday that our new Steelers' shop being built within the arena is on schedule to be open by the first game at the House of Steel, he is very excited and having seen the plans so should you be.

Now on to Liam Kirk, wow what an achievement.

Last week's NHL draft was a huge landmark for British hockey, Liam became the third British player and first Englishman to be drafted (by Arizona).

He immediately flew to the States to take part in their conditioning programme.

Reports already suggest he is impressing. The big thing now is where he plays next year?

Major Junior, back to Europe and maybe Swedish Under 20’s – who knows, but Liam is making waves on and off the ice.

Tim Wallace will be announced in Milton Keynes by the time you read this.

Wallace didn’t score the goals we had hoped last year but was a key member of the side.

He will be an important player for MK, his role different, I would suggest a third line centre maybe even playing with Cole Shudra.

Wallace was a good man. He gave us everything he had and we have nothing but good words to say about him. We wish him well.

So it’s back to the fixtures meeting for me – wish my colleague Shaun Smith and I luck as we try and obtain the best dates we can for our home games.

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