GUILLAUME LEPINE RETURNS TO PANTHERS
Date: Jun 18, 2018
Great Britain defenceman Ben O’Connor won’t be joining Barys Astana in the KHL after a change in the club’s ownership.
The former Sheffield Steeler was due to return to Kazakhstan after agreeing terms, but a statement on the Astana website confirmed there would be no place for the 29-year-old.
It read: “The Astana "Barys" have terminated the contract with Ben O'Connor. The club will pay the player money compensation. The agreement with the British defender was signed by the previous leadership headed by Askar Shopobaev.”
Understandably, O’Connor was disappointed to see his dream move halted and is expected to return to the Steelers.
But, in speaking to the Sheffield Star, he’s keeping his options open as he weighs up his possibilities for 2018/19.
“It was heartbreaking to get the news from my agent, but hockey is a business and it is what it is,” O’Connor said.
“I’d love to get another chance in the KHL, it would have been a pivotal move for me and good for British hockey. But I don’t know what happens next, I’ll leave that to my agent.
“Sheffield have been good, they said if I ever wanted to come back they’d be interested, they’re always very supportive.
“I have to do what is best for me and my family and it would be silly not to see what is out there.
“And I understand there will be a time span for Sheffield, too. The coach is putting a team together and the window for that will close at some point, which I completely understand.”
PHOTO: Dean Woolley