The news that Robert Dowd has signed a new three-year contract with Sheffield Steelers will have been music to the ears of the club’s fans.
Dowd (above) joins Ben O’Connor, Zack Fitzgerald, Mathieu Roy, Tyler Mosienko, Guillaume Desbiens and Jonathan Phillips in agreeing terms to stay in Sheffield, giving Head Coach Paul Thompson a solid core to build around for next season.
Despite missing 21 games through injury this season, Dowd has still scored 13 goals with 16 assists in 36 games and remains an important part of Thompson’s plans.
“We wanted to tie Robert in and he didn’t want to go anywhere else as he is an adopted Sheffield lad,” said Thompson.
“Sheffield wants to keep the best British players and there are no better than him. In Dowd and O’Connor I think we have the best.
“It’s always important that you have Brits that can score and he has shown year in, year out, that he can.
“He was on for another 20 plus goal season this year but the injuries have got in the way. To get 20 goals in this league now isn’t like it used to be. 20 now is like 30-35 a few years ago.”
Steelers have made hard work of defending their Elite League title this season, with injuries, suspensions and a questionable signing or two all cited as reasons for this in certain quarters.
Netminding has been an issue, with Tyler Plante’s injury and subsequent release throwing a spanner in the works.
Marek Pinc was brought in to replace him and hasn’t been totally convincing, while Brad Day’s development might be better served with a full season as an EPL starter under his belt.
Thompson has been on the receiving end of a fair amount of criticism this season, but he may yet thumb his nose at those critics by delivering another league title.
Whatever the outcome of the current campaign, Thompson will go into the 2016 summer transfer merry-go-round safe in the knowledge that he has some key players already on board.
If he can successfully add to the core he’s assembled, you’d have to be brave to bet against them for next year’s title.
(Image permission: Mick Johnson)