Rival floats suggestion of Sheffield Steelers winning title by..

Rival floats suggestion of Sheffield Steelers winning title by THIRTY points.

The South Yorkshire club is dominating the EIHL leaderboard by 14 points at the moment, and has games in hand over second and third-placed rivals.

One English club executive recently told The Star he isn’t surprised by the margin of Steelers’ lead, given the gap in expenditure between some of the Elite League member clubs.

That won’t overly concern the Orange Army of fans, who have been desperate to see the championship return to Attercliffe after an eight-year wait.

Now Dundee Stars’s general manager and coach has spelled out his thoughts, fresh after his own side’s latest reverse to the league leaders.

Steelers trounced the Scots 6-1 last weekend, on top of previous 3-0, 6-4 and 5-0 victories for Aaron Fox’s title favourites.

There is no disgrace in any of those results for LeFebvre, who brought in 15 fresh imports to his new club in the Summer, following the previous season’s bottom-of-the-league showing.

Dundee have now progressed up to mid-table, but their coach is realistic about their chances of getting anywhere close to Sheffield, whose playing squad he greatly admires.

“The 14-point gap shows their team is well built – finally they have got it right there,” says the former Sheffield assistant coach.

“As a team, you cannot switch off against them for three minutes or you have three goals in the back of your net.”

The difference in commercial structure between Sheffield and the rest has been their ability to offer big salaries, on top of highly desirable infrastructure facilities, LeFebvre believes.”At this level of professional sport, it mainly comes down to wages.

“Here (Dundee) we have a great set up in terms of housing, cars and everything, but we are not a big Arena club with the facilities that Sheffield have which are head and shoulders ahead of just about everything in our league.

“The history of the club, going from the old Superleague, even the old Heineken league, shows it has always been a championship level club and that is attractive to players too, and obviously that is the standard we want to get to, and bridge that gap.

“I don’t know how much a wage difference there is between Sheffield and the other teams but I can tell you they pay more than we do.

“I have no problem with teams spending money if they can afford it and the club is not going to go bust. But if there are rules in place with the league whether it is wage cap, or the number of changes on a roster, then every team has to abide by that and they are no different.

Sheffield Steelers – Sheffield Steelers Professional Ice Hockey Team

“As long as they are within the wage cap I have no problem with that.

“But if they win the league by 30 points then other teams will be jumping up and down something has got to be looked at.”

The former winger, who laughed as he described the Elite League salary limit as “a make-believe wage cap” added: “It seems like the rest of the league is competitive and then there is Sheffield, the outlier.

“Depending on what the final tally is at the end of the season, it may be something we have to look at.

“You are only as strong, as a league, as your weakest team.

“You cannot have a team running away with it by 30 points – for a league to be healthy you have to make sure we are all on a level playing field.”

LeFebvre stressed it wasn’t up to him to speculate about wage cap recognition at other individual teams.

“All I can say is that Sheffield are head and shoulders above us.”

And that advantage has an obvious effect on recruitment: “To be honest we are looking at a different set of players, when it comes to wages.

“But as far as our players are concerned, they must focus on themselves and try to beat teams around us, as we jockey for places in the standings.

“Wages is for ownership groups, coaches and managers to worry about.”

LeFebvre, fully expects Sheffield to win the title for the first time since 2016.

“Other than a total collapse, I don’t see them losing the league.

“The games with Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils will be key, but they have done well against them so far. I don’t see anything changing.

“But Grand Slam champions? We will win the Plays Offs, so they are not going to win the Grand Slam!”

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