Early this past week, the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs announced the hiring of new associate coach Ryan Smith. The 47-year-old Winnipeg product was most recently serving as an assistant coach behind the bench of the Medicine Hat Tigers.
“After the conversations I had with everyone involved in the interview process, I felt that this was an opportunity I did not want to miss,” Smith said in a team-issued press release. “The Chiefs are an outstanding organization with outstanding people and outstanding vision. I love to win and hope to see many victories in Spokane.”
Prior to his two-year stint with Medicine Hat, Smith spent three years with the Swift Current Broncos after one year as head coach/GM of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Humboldt Broncos. Before kicking his tires within the CHL, the well-travelled coach stood at the helm of the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers from 2009-14.
“We’re thrilled to bring Ryan on as an associate coach,” Chiefs’ GM Scott Carter said in the release. “He checks all the boxes we’re looking for in a coach and we’re confident he and Adam Maglio will continue our organization’s strong tradition of excellent coaching staffs. I’d also like to thank the Medicine Hat Tigers for permitting us to pursue Ryan for this position.”
A former MJHL star himself, Smith actually won the league’s Rookie of the Year award following the 1991-92 season with the St. James Canadians. In 131 total MJHL contests, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound forward had 140 goals, 298 points and 73 penalty minutes. He suited up in seven WHL games with the Seattle Thunderbirds before heading overseas, where he dressed for 11 different teams across Europe and Germany from 1997-2008.
“I’d like to thank Darrell and Brent Maser and the entire Tigers organization for two great years in Medicine Hat,” Smith added. “They are a classy organization that will always hold a special spot in my heart. I’m extremely honored to be given this new opportunity. Thanks to Bobby Brett, Scott Carter, Mark Miles, Adam Maglio and the rest of the Chiefs’ organization for welcoming me. I’d also like to thank my wife Kelly, my son Kai and my daughter Vayda for their continued support of my career.”
Last season, the Chiefs went 41-18-5 in 61 games, placing third in the U.S. Division before the league was shut down following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith’s former team, Medicine Hat, was just behind Spokane, going 41-19-3 in 63 league games in 2019-20. Both teams will look to pick up where they left off entering this December’s start to the season.