Steelers’ current longest-serving player Rod Sarich is gearing up for a 10th season at Sheffield Arena - but there complacency or déjà vu about his preparations.
“Every year is different and I think this is going to be a particularly exciting year” says the super-fit 34-year-old veteran. “The Champions League is interesting and I am looking forward to working with new coaches and new players.”
Sarich is more of an expert on new-season starts at Sheffield than anybody in the line-up, including Jason Hewitt and Jonathan Phiilips, who have played more games, but who arrived after him. He has seen a conveyor belt of players, coaches and owners arrive and leave the House of Steel.
“Paul Heavey brought me in but then has a contract dispute wit the owner (Bob Phillips) and disappeared. Then Dennis Maxwell came in as coach - but they then told him he wasn’t really the coach and Dave Whistle arrived! Whistle wasn’t there long, he was followed by Dave Matsos. Then it was Ben Simon, Ryan Finnerty and Doug Christiansen, in the year I was out of the team, and last season, Gerad Adams.”
Paul Thompson is now his new boss, someone he has played against when the coach ran Coventry Blaze. “We had a good rivalry against Coventry. He always seemed intense and his teams were organised and motivated” said the dual national d-man.
What differences does Sarich expect under his leadership?
“Last year was quite professional in the way ‘G’ ran things and that was an improvement on previous years. So the club’s heading into the right direction.”
Sarich welcomes the appointment of team-mate Darrell Hay as asst coach. “I was disappointed when he didn’t get a player contract quickly after last season ended and then surprise, surprise he is back as a coach. He knows his hockey - he is a ‘lifer.’ He keeps things light and will be a sort of avenue for the bous to communicate to Thommo, an extra set of eyes and ears. He has pedigree and has done well to get into coaching. He is familiar with Sheffield now and will want to get his hands dirty. He is also more than capable of playing if he is needed.”