|When they joined the Kamloops Blazers' coaching staff, Geoff Smith (left)|
and Scott Ferguson were hoping for better results than they got.
(Photo courtesy Kamloops Daily News)
Daily News Sports Editor
Geoff Smith spent Sunday afternoon playing soccer in the backyard.
The day after the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers announced that Smith wouldn’t be back for a fourth season as a part-time assistant coach was for family.
He and girlfriend Kari have four children, ages five to eight, in their blended family, and they will play a part in whatever is in his future.
“I don’t think so,” Smith said when asked if he is done with coaching. “I like to coach. I’d like to keep coaching. Whether something else pops up out of town or not, I’ll have to make some decisions because it’s important to be around my family.”
Smith said he “would have come back” to the Blazers, but “when you miss the playoffs, there need to be some changes made.”
The Blazers, of course, finished tied for ninth and out of the Western Conference playoffs.
“Coaching-wise, it could have been better. It had to be,” Smith said in looking back at the season. “I think we had a very good team on paper. For us to miss the playoffs, we’ve got to take the brunt of the blame.
“The players have responsibility, too . . . making sure they put their best foot forward every night with effort and concentration on the systems and stuff like that. We’re all in it together.
“We’re all responsible . . . sometimes some of us pay the price, or whatever. But we’re all responsible so I totally accept them changing it up.
“I’ve seen it lots in pro hockey and all sorts of different levels of hockey.”
Smith, who turned 42 on March 7, is from Edmonton. A third-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1987 NHL draft, he left the U of North Dakota Fighting Sioux and played 32 games with the Blazers in 1988-89. He went on to a professional career that included 462 NHL games split among the Oilers, who won the Stanley Cup in his first season, Florida Panthers and New York Rangers.
Smith has been involved at the ownership and management level in various restaurant and nightclub ventures in Kamloops, although he no longer is part of that scene. He has lived in Kamloops for more than 10 years now and was coaching a local bantam team when he joined the Blazers’ coaching staff.
“I really liked it. I liked coaching the young kids.” he said. “I liked being a head coach, too. You have to make all the decisions and planning and all that kind of stuff. It was fun.”
Still, knowing he isn’t tied down by businesses here, he is going to explore his options.
“I’d love to see what’s out there, for sure,” he said. “The higher levels you go, the more competitive it is andI like that challenge.”
And, no matter what happens, he will take the high road.
“I enjoyed my time with the Blazers and I’ll really miss it,” Smith said. “I loved working with the players and I love the game of hockey. I’ll miss it a lot.
“In the end, I have no hard feelings towards the Blazers organization. They treated me fair. And, as I say, we have to take the blame.”
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