This week, in the British Elite Ice Hockey league, has been a busy one for Sheffield Steelers Head coach Ryan Finnerty.
A total of three changes have been made to the Steelers roster as the Steelers coach looks to strengthen his side for the last four months of the season.
NHL winger, Tom Sestito of the Philadelphia Flyers has now left the Steelers as he looks to return to America. Tom asked to be released from his contract in the run up to the Christmas period, after joining the Steelers while the NHL labour dispute raged on. The NHL is no closer to resuming work, but Sestito decided it was time to leave the Steelers.
Sestito later used twitter to vocalise his feelings about the Sheffield club:
“Just want to thank the Steelers organization and the fans for having me for this period of time during my career. It was a pleasure and I wish nothing but the best outcome for you guys. I made a lot of good friends in that locker room and hopefully they bring home a championship,”
Speaking to the clubs website Steelers Coach Ryan Finnerty had this to say on Sestito’s departure:
“Well firstly we are sorry to see Tommy leave us. He made a hell of an impression in such a short period. I think he will be remembered here for a long time by both his team mates and the supporters.
“We though can’t stand in Tommy’s way and he has several other options should the NHL remain locked out. Tommy is going to return home on Wednesday and I would think head back over to Europe before too long if the lock out continues. There are some big money teams looking for guys right now who can pay Tommy well.
“Tommy was up front with us all along. He has more than played his part for us and we can’t thank him enough and have nothing but good things to say about the big man.”
The Steelers have also announced that young British forward Danny Wood has also left the club with immediate effect. Wood has joined English Premier League team Sheffield Steeldogs and fans will hope that the step down will help Danny to progress his career and return to the Steelers once his game has matured.
Wood joined the Steelers in the summer as he returned from the USA where he attended university. He was seen as a top prospect before he left for America and made his Steelers debut at the age of 15 before leaving for America.
With import defenseman James Jorgenson ruled out with an injury until March, Head Coach Finnerty then announced the signing of powerhouse defenseman Chris Frank.
Frank played for the Cardiff Devils last season before moving on to the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL, however due to the NHL lockout, Frank found himself fighting for one of six defensive spots with 11 competitors in the same position.
Frank has welcomed the chance to return to Great Britain and the player nicknamed “the tank” is sure to make a huge impact with the Steelers. Frank has a reputation for been a hard hitting player who can also play a good defensive game. Coach Finnerty proclaimed his delight at signing Frank, whom he had looked to sign in the summer:
“We finally got our man. We spoke all last summer with Chris trying to bring him here. I think he enjoyed his time in Cardiff but wanted to give North America one last go. With the lock out and the politics back there that decision didn’t quite work out.
“We are lucky to be in the position where a player like him becomes available at this time of the year. With Jim Jorgenson out until late February we needed another guy at the back. Timing worked out just right with Tommy Sestito leaving us, it meant we had the space and the budget to bring another guy in.
“Chris will be bringing us toughness of course but he is also a very good player, he is mean and nasty and I will be looking for him to continue with this style whilst with us.