Q & A with Jordan Smith

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DOG TREATS

Jordan Smith has been on my radar ever since it was announced that he was coming home to help guide the Soo Greyhounds to a Memorial Cup Championship.

If you are new to the Soo (that would be your only excuse haha) ; you would know that Jordan was a star defenceman for the Hounds during the tenure of Sir Craig Hartsburg. Jordan was feared around the league for his style of being an efficient,, composed and hard hitting stay at home defenceman. Back in the days when you could drop your mitts, Jordan did so only when it was necessary, and when he did ……………well he did it very well.

On the same note as toughness, he is also mentally tough. Smitty suffered a career-ending eye injury when he was hit with a puck while playing for the Portland Pirates of the AHL.

When most of us would roll over and just exist the rest of the way, Jordan who is “emotionally and mentally strong” according to his father Marty, went on to play hockey at Lakehead University, Coach the Soo Thunderbirds, coach as an Associate Coach with the Sudbury Wolves, and is now an Associate Coach with your Soo Greyhounds.

Below is my interview with Jordan Smith.

Me: How easy was the decision to accept the position of Associate Coach with your former team the Soo  Greyhounds?

Jordan: “well it was a pretty easy decision, I mean when the opportunity arose and obviously the first thing that came to mind was being able to come home to my family…which was tough you know last year being away but I thought it was the best thing to do for my career…..but it was a pretty easy decision to move home”.

Myself: What do you think makes the coaching tandem special (John Dean, Jamie Tardiff, Jordan Smith) and sets you guys apart from the rest of the league?

Smith: ” I think our youthfulness, you know Jamie just retired last year and still being really in touch with the game and the everyday operations of what it takes to be a player, and for John and I with John having coached a little longer than myself…. and spending time in Tier 2 and progressing to the Ontario Hockey League….the staff and I know the grind and the sacrifice it takes to get to the high level and just the energy we have every day…..we’ll biasedly tell you we’re the best staff in the league but we take pride in that and work hard to make sure our guys are most prepared as possible”

Eye: Who would the kids consider the guy not to cross or the disciplinarian on the staff?

Smitty: “well I don’t know, we have a good group of kids and haven’t really run into any major issues where it involved any disciplinary actions…..they’ve made our lives really easy in that regard…..the kids are goal focused and oriented and they know what they want to do and it’s our job to make them realize what it’s going to take to reach those lofty goals. I think a lot can be said for the guys that came back from last year and they came up a bit short, but I  think they know now what it’s going to take to be successful in the end. ”

Moi: Why do you think the team has been so successful and achieved so much ahead of the curve: for example, having five or six rookies in the lineup on any given night?

JS: “I think the older guys showing the way at the start have made our job so much easier by buying into what John was preaching and just bringing it every day. People seem to be surprised at our success but to be perfectly honest I don’t think the coaches are….we came in with a plan…and credit to the players for buying into it …..they came into to it blind and didn’t really know John, Jamie, or myself and we see there is a confidence there and a trust in us and that’s why I think we’ve done so well. There is also no secret that our rookies and first-year players have contributed immensely…..and I don’t think we’d be where we are if it wasn’t for the group as a whole gelling and being a close-knit team”

The Writer: When I spoke with John earlier last year, he said Jacob LeGuerrier was the most underrated player on the team: who would you say is in respect to the same question?

Jordan S: ” I’m not trying to give you an easy answer but in terms of somebody who doesn’t really get the spotlight as much, I think LeGuerrier would be on the top of my list as well. He doesn’t get a lot of accolades, he’s not on the power play, he doesn’t score many goals, but day in day out, he brings a strong work ethic and consistency…..it’s his third year, he knows the league well…..he’s often matched up against the other teams top lines and first unit penalty kill. He has more of a defensive role than some of the other guys but all year he’s been outstanding for us. I can count on one hand the times that he has had an off night and all year his defending has been exceptional.”

Che: At the trade deadline there was chatter around the city wondering why the big move wasn’t done to bring in a high-end player (Suzuki, Durzi etc) for a big playoff push ; although you are not in Kyles shoes, what are your thoughts on why he stood pat, aside from bringing Peca, Pytlik, and Drew Wawrow with the DeMeo trade?

J Smith: “I think the underlying factor is it’s not always about the ability of bringing in somebody that is above someone else, I mean why tinker with the success we’ve had all year, and there is also the factor that the team has been together all year and there is no second guessing in the locker room or on the ice….there are no new bonds that have got to be made…..aside from Peca, Pytlik that came in from overseas…..even with those guys it was seamless….they came in and knew what to expect from Deaner and the coaches……it’s honestly like riding a bike…..every game they go out , they know their role and there is no extra explanation, so it’s almost easier to touch on the finer details of our game as the groundwork has been built up (and bought into) all year. We like where we are at and the fact that we’ve been together all year is going to help us in the long run”

Ernestito: How do you guys deal with things like Barrett Hayton getting extra physical attention from the opposing players and some of the punishment he has been taking; with the way the officiating is these days with no tolerance for fighting, what kind of message do you give Barrett in order to keep his composure?

Brooke’s Brother: “that has to be expected from a guy like Barrett or Morgan or Mac for that matter….obviously guys are going to key in on your key guys and make there life miserable. We don’t really tell them much aside from handling it like a professional and playing hard between the whistles. I understand people get frustrated with the treatment they get but that goes with the territory of being an elite player and it’s only going to continue for them at the next level. I think if they handle it but not letting the opposition know it doesn’t bother them and showing no emotion, eventually, it will deter them from giving that treatment (to an extent). If you let them know it bothers you it opens the door to more of that treatment. If our guys continue to play hard and turn the cheek, we’ll be successful; I remember a game against Windsor I believe where they came in and ran us all night and we stuck to our game plan and I think we won the game handily….so when we are executing and stick to the game plan, that is where we have most of our success”

Yours Truly: What would you say drives Jordan Smith?; after your injury, you did not hang up the skates, you worked hard and have become one of the leagues premier coaches on the rise.

Smitty : “I love the game, I love what it offers you….you get what you put in and I’ve used it as a tool almost to better myself and improve as an individual……there are a lot of life lessons that the game can teach you and one of them is you’re not always going to be on the right side of things….you’re going to get bad bounces and tough breaks. I think if you can keep focused on your long term goals and keep working to aspire to be better…..I think it just makes you a better human and I have been in hockey for a few years now and I just love it !”

** I’ve run out of pronouns so this concludes my broadcast day; next up for the Dogs of War are a tilt Thursday in North Bay and a revenge match on Friday against the Wolves of Sudbury.**

Go Hounds Go

Ernest Skinner

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Ernest Skinner
Ernest Skinner was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie and attended Humber College after high school. He has a passion for other cultures and has travelled throughout Mexico and many South American countries. He has written many articles over the years that deal with events happening here in Sault Ste. Marie and around the globe. Ernest has interviewed many rock and roll musicians including, Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy.Dio.Whitesnake, Quiet Riot), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger). Adrian Vandenberg (Vandenberg, Whitesnake, Moonkings), Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot), David Ellefson (Megadeth), Sass Jordan, Lee Aaron, John Corabi (Motley Crue/Dead Daisies), Geoff Tate (Queensryche) Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest), Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner) and many more. Reading about ancient civilizations, world politics, and mysteries of the unknown are also defining factors that are his general makeup. Outside of being serious, he has a bright sense of humour that was moulded from shows like Seinfeld & The Simpsons. Ernest is a freelance writer.