The Steinbach Pistons are used to saying goodbye to graduating players at year end, but not to coaches. That’s why it was extra emotional at the team’s year-end awards banquet last month when it was publically announced that Rob Smith was moving on in his coaching career.
Smith spent the last four seasons with the Pistons, helping the organization win its first MJHL championship during his first year with the team. The Steinbach product isn’t stepping away from the game; he’s moving on to become the Head Coach of the newly formed Rink Hockey Academy. The Rink Hockey Academy will play in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League against programs like the Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna, British Columbia.
“First of all, I would like to say Rob will be missed, and we are very thankful for the four years he spent with us,” said Pistons Head Coach and General Manager Paul Dyck. “Rob and I are like-minded in many ways, which made for a great working relationship. He will be a lifelong friend.”
“His contribution to our team played a large role in our success and growth both on and off the ice,” Dyck said about the former Captain of the University of Manitoba Bisons. “He is passionate about player development and our defencemen benefited from his coaching.”
When looking back at his time in Steinbach, Smith says there is a lot to reflect on, but winning the Turnbull Trophy in 2012-2013 and attending the first Western Canada Cup were his fondest memories.
“Not far behind those moments, on a much broader of memory, I will always remember how good the staff and players were to work with and how supportive the community has been to this team,” he said with much appreciation.
Smith was also quick to point out how beneficial it was being a part of the Pistons organization for his development as a coach and professional.
“I could probably write a very long paper about it,” Smith said. “ If I were to narrow it down, it would boil down to a few things: learning what an elite and healthy organization looks like, learning what a winning culture looks like and learning about the amount of work it takes to build and create a team that has a chance to win every year.”
The newly appointed head coach won’t be far from the T.G. Smith Centre as he works out of the Southdale Community Centre in Winnipeg. There is a good chance Pistons fans will now be able to stand alongside the former Pistons coach instead of watching him switch the Pistons defense on and off the ice.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the Steinbach Pistons continue to grow and reach new heights,” commented Smith. “I wish the entire Pistons Family the best and thank them for the great ride.”
The Pistons reflect those comments wishing Smith the very best as he continues to pursue his coaching career.