Since the end of national affairs, GB’s World Championship high-flying survival dreams have been crushed 1,600 miles on a Nordic rink.
Sheffield Arena fans are therefore entering the hockey-free summer months in search of better days.
At this time of year, there are always more questions than answers.
Can the Steelers be successfully rebuilt? Will the big guns be back… players like Marco Vallerand, Brendan Connolly, Tanner Eberle, Kevin Schulze, Martin Latal and Evan Mosey, for example.
The charismatic lads are a prime attraction for season ticket buyers and the club likes to reward its best attacking players with multi-year deals, bringing back the skaters who light up the stands.
Of course, not all players are followed by a huge orange army.
It’s likely that Antonin Boruta’s name isn’t among the top five players fans would clamor to see again.
His defensive style doesn’t get as much attention as Schulze’s or Daine Todd’s before the latter was injured.
But Boruta might have done enough for Aaron Fox to consider courting him again from HC Innsbruck, the Austrian side who loaned him out to Sheffield after a series of injuries.
The solid defender was a loan signing on deadline day and entered the Sheffield line-up for the last 18 games.
It took him a few games to assimilate – his debut came in a 5-4 home loss to the Dundee Stars on March 5, a weekend that saw Sheffield slip behind the Belfast Giants in top of the EIHL ranking.
But he was a consistent performer in the final stretch of the season which ended in the quarter-finals, at the same side of Dundee.
Boruta originally arrived with Austrian teammate Nico Feldner, whose trial failed, and he left before the end of the season.
Feldner has a contract at Innsbruck for the 2022-23 season and Boruta appears to have an option, but it’s unclear exactly where he will hit the ice next season.
Coach Fox says of the 33-year-old: “I like Tony’s game and I think he played well.
“His first weekend was his worst but he got better, we’ll see what they do in Austria but we’re not closing any doors.”
Vallerand was a strong supporter of Boruta.
He thought of when he had “found his game” after initially struggling to adapt.
But after a while he was a ‘much different player’ than he was when he arrived in a ‘new dressing room and new environment’.
The EIHL had a different style than the Austrian national league.
Boruta had a knack for moving the puck well. “He makes good decisions, he skates well,” added Vallerand.
The skater was plus-five in the plus-minus stats and scored five points.
His only goal came in a 6-2 win over Nottingham Panthers in April.
The former Czech international was not a full replacement for Todd, whose quarterbacking skills set him apart from most other Elite League defenders.
And Todd then? Well, his position is complicated by the season-ending injury he suffered.
If the Canadian’s broken leg fully recovers, Todd could eventually be persuaded to get a bigger paycheck in Europe.
Adrian Saxrud-Danielsen has signed for his hometown club in Norway.
And while Davey Phillips will return to the blue line with his British teammate Sam Jones, there is no definite news on the remaining members of the D Corps, Keaton Ellerby and Schulze.
It’s all up for grabs – and a guessing game to keep fans busy.
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This notice was published: 2022-05-27 11:49:37