Sheffield Steelers have announced their defenceman Ben O’Connor has left the club and won’t be returning for next season.
The 31-year-old leaves the club after almost six years, after joining them from Kazakhstan side Arlan Kokshetau in October 2018.
A statement on Steelers’ social media read: “Sheffield Steelers have confirmed that Ben O’Connor will not be returning to the club next season.
Ben, son of Steelers legend Mike O’Connor, joined the club in 2014 and has played 380 games in Orange in a six year spell.
During his time with the Steelers Ben has helped the club win league titles, play off championships and of course was a part of last season’s Challenge Cup side.”
Speaking on Steelers TV head coach Aaron Fox added: “It’s an unfortunate part of the hockey business when a player leaves a club, especially one who has been in Sheffield for so long.
“Unfortunately, terms couldn’t be agreed and we have both decided to move on.
“We thank Ben for his time here. He has been a huge part of the Steelers. We wish him well.”
O’Connor seemed to dispute Fox’s comments when he tweeted that the mutual parting was “untrue” and stated: “Long story short, the club would like to go a new direction. I agreed to the terms. Regardless, I wish everyone the best of luck in the future.”
The GB international has enjoyed a successful career, starting in the Sheffield youth system before moving to the OHL then returning to the Elite League were he played for Basingstoke Bison and Edinburgh Capitals.
Further spells at Coventry Blaze then another in Edinburgh led to a move to Morzine in France followed by three years in Kazakhstan.
His signing for Steelers was something of a homecoming and was part of a successful team who won two league titles, a play-offs and ended his career in Sheffield with the Challenge Cup.
He briefly signed in the KHL, but the move was aborted so he ended up in Sweden for a short spell with Swedish side Leksands in 2018 before returning to Yorkshire.
British Ice Hockey sources suggest that O’Connor could be on his way to Guildford Flames, which would see him team up with GB team-mate Stevie Lee at the Spectrum, although nothing has been confirmed at this time by any parties.