Oct. 16th, 2013
TORONTO– When the Toronto Maple Leafs contacted NHL veteran Jerred Smithson about signing a professional try-out contract with the Marlies, he didn’t have to think twice about his answer.
“Once I got the opportunity it was a no brainer for me,” said the 34-year-old. “I got a call yesterday morning from my agent asking if it’s something I was interested in. I wasn’t doing anything and this is great for me to get back playing.”
The 6-foot-3 210-pound centreman has 588 NHL games under his belt, including 45 split last season between the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers. The expectation upon Smithson is that he can bring veteran leadership to a young team, as well as much-needed depth down the middle.
“Just play my game, same thing since I’ve turned pro, try to be strong defensively, good on the faceoffs,” said Smithson. “Nothing is going to change at AHL, NHL or whatever. I’m going to go do my thing.”
“(Management) told me they want to continue to bring in veteran players to work with our younger guys,” added head coach Steve Spott. “He’s a quality centremen, great person and plays both ends of the rink.”
With Trevor Smith currently summoned to the Leafs, the Marlies were carrying only three centres prior to signing Smithson. The AHL club also lost veteran winger Mike Duco on Tuesday at practice with a high left-ankle sprain and has no time table for a return.
“That’s a dreaded hockey injury,” Spott said about Duco. “We’ll have an MRI in very near future. He’ll be out indefinitely. It’s a loss for our hockey club.”
Smithson joined the Marlies Wednesday for his first practice and was pleased to get on the ice with his new club as he’s expected to be in the lineup Friday when Toronto faces the Americans in Rochester.
“I wanted to get here as soon as I could, get some ice time, know the boys,” said Smithson. “Biggest thing for me is getting comfortable with them.”
In his NHL career, Smithson has 39 goals and 96 points to go along with 354 penalty minutes. The last time the Vernon, B.C native played in the AHL was in 2005-06 with the Milwaukee Admirals. He was never drafted and signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Kings in 2002.