VIDEO: Sheffield Steelers boss uncertain about reception at Coventry Blaze

Paul Thompson - a coach in the Midlands for 18 years - returns to the scene of his greatest achievements when he takes Sheffield Steelers to Coventry Blaze on Saturday.

Thompson, who was then the longest-serving head coach in Europe, spearheaded the organisation to 15 major trophies - his winning formula including four Elite League titles and a Grand Slam.

Sheffield Steelers team bench at Cardiff on Sunday

Sheffield Steelers team bench at Cardiff on Sunday

Yet Thompson says he does not know what reception he will get from the club he left to explore Swedish and Danish hockey for two seasons.

The Sheffield manager admits the Challenge Cup Group encounter was not “any other game.”

He said he hadn’t given it any thought until Monday because he had been focussing on the Champions Hockey League.

But he accepted: “It is going to be a big weekend.”

Asked about what reaction he is likely to get he said he didn’t know adding cryptically: “I only won them 15 I have no clue.”

The coach left Blaze because “it came to a point in my life that I wanted something different and I kind of wanted to invest in me by going to Europe and see what I could learn.

“I am far more rounded a coach because of that opportunity of working in Sweden and Denmark.”

He said Coventry had a good team, in fact “the whole League had gone up another notch and you have to be on your game. I think they have got a very good coach, he is the glue there.”

Thompson also had special praise for veteran Ashley Tait.

He said: “The Longstaffs, the Taits the Weavers, the Hands, they have been in the game for 20-odd years and you have to give them that respect that they have come through all different levels in that time. Tait is one of them.”

Thompson is more concerned with his team’s misfiring Power Play.

“We’d hope for better than 2 for 9 on the power play (in Sunday’s loss at Cardiff Devils.) We have to be more ruthless in front of goal.”

“This was a good test for us though. For both the new and returning guys to see where we are and what we have to get back to in our own league.

* Zack Fitzgerald has become embroiled in a twitter row with Cardiff Devils.

The Sheffield defenceman published a picture of the thin ice surface in south Wales tweeting: “We played a professional hockey game on this ice...”

Devils got their own back by saying his stick had deflected the puck home for Cardiff’s winning goal.

The player then hit back with “@cardiffdevils organization is almost as professional as there (sic) ice rink. What a mockery of the game.”

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