Monday, December 4, 2017

Smith reaches 100!

Jason Smith hits 100 game benchmark - Shoot the Breeze Photography
It has never been about Jason Smith. It wasn't about him as a player. It isn't about him as a head coach. Smith is the ultimate team guy. Always has been. Always will be. That said, as a broadcaster, my intent was to draw more out of him in a pre-game interview as the 44 year-old reached 100 games coached in the Western Hockey League prior to his team hitting the ice Saturday night in a 5-2 win over Kootenay. In what I would consider my best interview with him to date, Smith reflected back on his first game behind the Kelowna Rockets bench, a 9-2 road loss last season to the Kamloops Blazers.
"To get to 100 games, it's been great. I have been around a great bunch of kids and work with great people, so it makes it a lot of fun to do it. You are managing personalities and people and are trying to get the best results out of the players you have. I hope I am a better coach than I was back then". 
Smith is an intimidating figure when you meet him for the first time. He was a hard nosed player in the NHL and you can still see the intensity in his eyes even as a coach. But I've had the privileged of seeing the more human side of Smith, which comes with time and trust between coach and broadcaster. 
"I think as a player you acquire knowledge from coaches and now as a coach yourself, you want to pass on that knowledge I acquired to the players. The guts of hockey is about hard work and how well you play as a team to bring you success. You can be as skilled as you want and play as an individual, but the chances are your team won't have success. Experience of playing is something that you can't read in a book. You can't explain what being in the heat of the battle is unless you've done it". 
I always wondered how someone so intense as a player is able to turn it off as a coach, or at least managing it better when you can't take your frustration out in a physical manner while standing behind the bench as a head coach wearing a suit and tie. 
"At the start, there were some games where I was too emotional and got a bit wound up, not with the players but the referee's", Smith said with a chuckle. "I want to try and give direction and our staff wants to give direction to these kids in a positive way. We want them to be a positive factor once they leave here". 
Under Jason Smith, the Rockets are 62-30-7-1 after 100 games.
Congrats coach, on the milestone.

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