Sports

Contract offer spurs Smyl's departure

Harvey Smyl was all smiles when the Chilliwack Chiefs came back to town prior to the 2011-12 season. Now, he’s leaving the team he’s coached for the last 21 years. - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE
Harvey Smyl was all smiles when the Chilliwack Chiefs came back to town prior to the 2011-12 season. Now, he’s leaving the team he’s coached for the last 21 years.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE

Harvey Smyl said he intended to return as head coach and general manager of the Chilliwack Chiefs, and his departure has nothing to do with wanting a change.

Smyl confirmed that Chiefs president Glen Ringdal tabled a contract offer late last week.

Ringdal described the offer as ‘very fair.’

While Smyl wouldn’t delve into specifics, what he said made it easy enough to read between the lines.

Clearly, he disagrees.

“The contract offer is like a package thing, with more to it than just dollar figures,” he said. “There’s other things, like duration, and I think it’s a matter of opinion in terms of whether it was fair.”

Length of contracts was, in fact, a huge sore spot for Smyl, who found it uncomfortable coaching this year, in the final year of a three year pact.

Such situations are often characterized as ‘lame duck.’

“Getting into that position, that situation where you don’t have a contract for next year, that’s alarming,” Smyl said. “At any level or profession, it’s not a great situation to be in. And it doesn’t really help the program.”

Smyl confirmed that became a topic of conversation with parents and prospects as he hit the recruiting trail.

“I have to say it’s come up a lot over the last six weeks, and naturally it’s been in my mind as I’ve talked to these kids,” he said. “As your (Progress) stories have gotten out there, a lot of people in the hockey world are aware of it and all I’ve said to parents and prospects is that it’s ‘in negotiations.’”

Smyl’s personal situation changed this year, making it easier for him to walk away.

“When you’ve coached for as long as I have, I’ve been involved in lots of scenarios with franchises moving and ownership changing, and it’s always been a concern,” he said. “But my son (Cam) graduates this year, so everyone’s of age to move. The last couple days have been surreal, but the support I’ve received at home has made everything a lot easier.”

In his comments, Ringdal suggested he’d  received assurances from Smyl that he wouldn’t be coaching anywhere in the BCHL.

“I don’t think Glen could say that,” Smyl said, obviously taken aback. “A man’s gotta work. Come June 1 (when his Chiefs contract ends), if it ends up being in the BCHL, so be it.”

Having said that, Smyl said he has no idea what’s next.

He wants to stay in the hockey business one way or another, though he doesn’t know what form that’ll take.

“The big thing was to decide what I wanted to do here (with the Chiefs) first, and beyond that I really don’t know,” he said. “When you work for an organization for as long as I have, with the blood, sweat and tears that go into it, I was waiting to see what was going to be offered — whether it was fair, whether it was the right move.”

Smyl leaves feeling the  team is in good shape. Despite missing the playoffs for the first time in his BCHL career, Smyl feels the pipeline is full of promise.

“The guys who will return next year, you saw some of them make huge strides late in the season,” he noted. “I think the team will be in very good shape with some of the things that we’ve done, and I hope they hire an ex-Chief to see it through. No matter what, my heart and soul still bleeds Chiefs.”

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