Paul Thompson.

‘Thommo’ Quits Devils Rivals Steelers After Poor Start

Paul Thompson has walked away from Sheffield Steelers.

‘Thommo’ made his decision after a poor start to the new season which made him a target for Steelers fans demanding success. Their 5-2 defeat at Coventry Blaze was the result which finally sparked his decision.

Assistant coach Mark Matheson has taken charge in the short term and club owner Tony Smith is looking for a full-time replacement.

Journalist Bob Westerdale, who covers ice hockey for the Sheffield Star, talked to Thompson after their 3-2 win against bitter rivals Nottingham Panthers in front of 7,000 spectators on Saturday, and wrote: “He looked like he’d aged 10 years in 10 games. Paul Thompson was sat opposite me, in a bathroom-cum-interview-room, his eyes sunken, his face ashen. 

“I’m sick of it, Bob” he confided. “I’m f****** sick of it.” He certainly didn’t carry the appearance of the coach of a team that had just BEATEN their arch rivals. 

“I didn’t know it then, but in that bathroom, Thompson was recognising his career was going down the Sheffield Arena plughole.

“Thompson had lost the healthy glow he’d developed over the Summer months. He looked genuinely ill and stressed by the pressure. The only bright side was that he had not lost the dressing room – as some wrongly speculated. I don’t know of one player who wanted him gone.”

Cardiff-born Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips mounted a public defence of Thompson and Brendan Brooks said: “The guys love him. He is a great coach.” 

A Steelers statement said: “We confirm that Paul Thompson has left the club for personal reasons.

“The club wishes to thank Paul for his hard work and effort here over the past three and a half seasons.

“Paul has left all roles held at the club. We would like to thank him for all the hard work and dedication shown throughout his tenure. Thank you Thommo.”

Cardiff Devils won 6-2 at Sheffield earlier this season, while their second match against Steelers is at Ice Arena Wales on Saturday, October 20.

Devils have two League fixtures in four days this week – against Dundee Stars away on Wednesday and Manchester Storm at home on Saturday – before they return to Champions League action.

Head coach Andrew Lord takes his team to play Vaxjo Lakers in Sweden next Tuesday.

Tickets for the 2018/19 season games are on sale now.

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