In more than two decades, Harvey Smyl has never had a contract.
One of the BCHL’s best all-time coaches has always operated on handshakes, doing what he’s done without ever scribbling his signature on a piece of paper.
He’s never had the ironclad security that other coaches crave, and he’s never worried about it.
Tuesday, therefore, marked a significant change for the head coach and general manager of the Chilliwack Chiefs as he finally signed a contact, inking an extension that will carry him through the 2013-14 season.
“I’m excited, happy and honoured to be involved with what I consider to be the best junior A city in the country,” Smyl said. “I get to represent Chilliwack around the province and throughout the country, and there’s not a lot of guys with that type of job.”
Chiefs president Glen Ringdal announced the extension at a morning news conference, talking about Smyl’s contributions to the club.
“Contracts are important to coaches, because their jobs are considered tenuous,” Ringdal said. “It speaks to the kind of guy Harvey is that he was prepared to put that aside last year and not even worry about it because we had so many important things to do.”
Smyl did what he’s always done last season, taking a transplanted team from Quesnel, overhauling the roster and turning them into a playoff team — in a league in which only four teams from each conference made the post-season.
“He did a masterful job building a team that exceeded all of our expectations,” Ringdal noted. “To be very honest, it wasn’t reasonable that we should have expected to be in the playoffs. But we didn’t say that to Harvey of course, and sure enough he came through as he always does.”
Smyl was quick to point out that the 2011-12 Chiefs were far from a one-man show, and assistants Doug Ast, Brandon Fleenor, Paul Nicolls and Rob Bruni will all be back next season. Smyl was even quicker to point out that, despite a successful season, their job is far from done.
“As a coaching staff, we were pleased, but by no means satisfied,” Smyl said about the team’s 33-22-2-3 regular season record and six game playoff battle versus Penticton. “We think it’s a great stepping stone that moves this franchise forward. The goal is to continue to advance our players scholastically and have this team playing in May.”
Following Chilliwack’s first round exit at the hands of the eventual RBC champion Vees, Smyl found post-secondary hockey homes for five of his graduating players. A sixth, Kody Dhaliwal, is expected to finalize something soon.
“He will be writing a chemistry exam this week, which I’m sure he will pass,” Smyl said. “After that he’ll be advancing to the next step in his hockey and scholastic life. We think that is a very, very important part of our program, as important as winning. And we’ve been very successful in that area.”
Heading into his 20th season with the Chilliwack/Langley franchise, Smyl’s teams have never missed the BCHL playoffs. Smyl has coached three BCHL championship teams (1994-95, 1999-00, and 2001-02).
He’s taken two teams to the Royal Bank Cup, winning a bronze medal in 2000.
Smyl has been BCHL coach of the year four times.
— At the same news conference, the Chiefs announced their intention to once again join with Hub International Barton Insurance Brokers in the Cash for Kids Fund.
Last season the insurance agency pledged $10 for every goal scored by the hockey team.
The Chiefs lit the lamp 194 times in the regular season, adding 10 more in the playoffs, generating $2,040 for the fund.
That money was evenly split between the Chilliwack Minor Hockey Association and Chilliwack FC, with both organizations using the money to further their development programs.
CMHA president David Soltys accepted the money on behalf of his group. Chilliwack FC president Andrea Laycock did the same for hers.
At the same time, Hub/Barton executive Tim Brandsma confirmed a commitment of another two years for the Cash for Kids Fund.