British ice hockey is a vibrant place right now and has grown steadily over time to become a popular sport in the UK. While it may now be offseason in the Elite Ice Hockey League until the 2022/23 campaign kicks into life, that does not mean there isn’t anything for fans to stay updated with.
As in all major sports, offseason is actually a busy time with plenty of breaking stories. One good example is the injury suffered to Mason Mitchell and the subsequent signing of Tomas Pitule by Steelers coach Aaron Fox. But why should you find out more about this and did Fox make the right decision?
Why is it key to know about Aaron Fox’s decision on Mitchell and Pitule?
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Did Fox do the right thing after injury to Mason Mitchell?
One thing fans do not want on the eve of a new season is an injury to one of their new players – so Sheffield Steelers fans will not be happy about the training injury suffered by forward Mason Mitchell recently.
Mitchell was hurt while training in Canada pre-season and is said to be out until late October or early November 2022. This has led to Mitchell being placed on the Steelers injury reserve list and the injury jinx which seems to stalk the team from Sheffield has struck again.
The signing of Tomas Pitule by Steelers coach Aaron Fox was a quick reaction to the situation. But was this the correct call to make?
Can Tomas Pitule replace Mason Mitchell?
There is no doubt that the signing of Mitchell was something of a coup for the Sheffield team – especially as he came in as a double summer signing by the Steelers. With 14 goals and 11 assists to his name last year, Mitchell was looking likely to play a major part in any success they were due for in 2022/23.
His injury therefore was a big blow, and it is clear coach Aaron Fox had to address it in some way. But was moving for Pitule the best solution? If you look at it in terms of squad size alone, then it is certainly a smart decision.
The absence of Mitchell leaves a big hole in the Steelers squad for a prolonged period, and Pitule coming in will help to fill this gap.
It is also clear to see that Tomas Pitule is no slouch himself and will bring his own qualities to the Sheffield side. At 32, he has plenty of experience and can use this to help his new side succeed.
His experience playing for different clubs in various leagues across Europe could also prove invaluable and help him settle quickly in Sheffield. When you also consider that Pitule plays in the same position as Mitchell, it does look like a sensible move to provide cover until he is back.
Coach Fox goes for short-term Pitule deal
Another aspect of Aaron Fox’s decision after Mason Mitchell’s injury which makes sense is the short-term deal Pitule has been signed on for now. This is a two-month spell initially, but can be extended for the season if need be.
This gives Fox the chance to end Pitule’s contract after two months if Mitchell is back by then or the Czech player is not performing as expected. When you consider that Pitule played in Czechia2 last season, this is a sensible contract structure if he cannot get up to the speed of playing in the Elite Ice Hockey League.
We also have to factor in that Pitule was a player that coach Fox was said to be chasing anyway and has had his eye on for a long time. This shows that his signing is not a panic buy caused solely by Mitchell’s injury and is in fact a considered move that might have been made anyway.
Move for reinforcements seems a smart one by Fox
When we consider that Mason Mitchell is out for at least six to eight weeks by all reports, it makes sense for the Steelers to bring in someone to cover for him until he returns. Although this means another new player coming into their locker room, the experience and talent Tomas Pitule offers makes it a good deal.