“We are very pleased to announce that Troy Smith will be taking over as the next head coach of the Saginaw Spirit,” Drinkill said in a press release this morning. “When looking for a new coach, we had criteria we wanted our new coach to meet and Troy checked off all the boxes.”
“He is a person of high character, an excellent communicator, and is extremely detailed, prepared, and hardworking,” continued Drinkill. “The players and the city of Saginaw will benefit with the addition of him as the head coach of the Spirit on and off the ice.”
Smith, a native of Hamilton, ON joins the Spirit after his most recent Ontario Hockey League job as an associate coach and assistant general manager of his hometown Hamilton Bulldogs during the 2015-16 season and part of the 2016-17 season.
“I would like to thank Dick Garber, Craig Goslin, and Dave Drinkill for this wonderful opportunity to be the head coach of an excellent organization,” Smith said. “I am excited to work with (Spirit assistant) Chris Lazary and our staff. Dave Drinkill has put together an exciting group of prospects. I am looking forward to helping them grow individually, and most importantly as a team.”
Smith began his OHL playing career as a defenseman for the Detroit Whalers from 1995 through 1997 before the organization changed its name to the Plymouth Whalers, where he would finish out his final two (1997-99) OHL seasons.
After his 4-year playing career in the OHL, Smith went on to play 5-seasons of Canadian College hockey (1999-2004) for St. Francis Xavier University, before playing semi-pro hockey for 4 different teams in 3-leagues over the next two years (2004-06).
In 2006, Smith joined his former Detroit/Plymouth Whalers head coach and mentor Peter DeBoer
(who is currently an NHL head coach for the San Jose Sharks) as an assistant coach of the Kitchener Rangers, spending seven years as an assistant in Kitchener before being named head coach to start the 2013 season.
In 2013 Smith replaced former Rangers head coach Steve Spott
(who is currently DeBoer's NHL assistant coach for the San Jose Sharks) and would go on to a 54-67 record in 136-games over 2-seasons as head coach of the Rangers from 2013 through the 2015 OHL season.
With Smith and Spott as assistant coaches under DeBoer, the trio led the Rangers to a 2008 Memorial Cup runner up finish when Kitchener was the host city.
During the 2010-11 season, Smith gained some international experience as an assistant for the Gold medal winning 2011 team Canada Ontario U-17 squad at the 2011 World Hockey Under 17 Challenge, before moving up to become the head coach of the 2012 and 2013 team Canada Ontario U-17 teams, winning the bronze medal at the 2012 World Hockey Under 17 Challenge.
Once his immigration paperwork are finalized, Smith will then set his sights on joining the team for the first day of 2017 Spirit training camp on Aug. 28, at the Dow Event Center to prepare for the upcoming season.