Markus Naslund Hires Former Canucks Assistant Coach to Fill Same Role for Modo

Thomas Drance
April 24 2013 09:35AM

 
Naslund introduces Modo's new coaching staff including former Canucks Assistant Barry Smith (sporting a blazer in the middle).
Screenshot via Allehande.se

Nearly five years ago, with his future with the Canucks organization still uncertain following the hiring of new General Manager Mike Gillis to replace Dave Nonis (the man who'd originally hired him), Alain Vigneault told his longtime assistants Barry Smith and their other colleague Mike Kelly that their expertise would no longer be needed in Vancouver. The Canucks retained Vigneault and one assistant coach in Rick Bowness in a move that, at the time, suggested that Alain Vigneault had passed a grueling examination from the incoming General Manager and would be retained.

Since then Barry Smith, who was a Canucks assistant coach when current Modo General Manager Markus Naslund captained the Canucks from 2006 to 2008, tragically lost his wife, moved to Europe, and coached the Danish and Dutch men's national hockey teams. Now he'll be an assistant to Anders Forsberg next season in Örnsköldsvik, coaching Modo the former club team of the Sedin twins, and working for the Swedish sniper whose number nineteen hangs in the rafters at Rogers Arena.

Read past the jump.

In introducing Barry Smith at a press conference early Wednesday morning (the introductory presser took place at about 2 AM pacific time) Markus Naslund described the former Canucks assistant coach as a "a real hockey nerd, a true hockey geek." In particular he was hoping Barry would help the team "maintain a connection with a broader mindset," which I'd suspect means they want a North American perspective on the coaching staff, though alternatively it could just suggest that Naslund wants an outsiders opinion since the former Canucks assistant has no prior relationship with incoming head coach Anders Forsberg, who is an Örnsköldsvik native. 

"I was both happy and surprised when Markus got in touch and asked if I was interested in this job," Smith is quoted telling local Örnsköldsvik outlet Allehanda, "Hockey is my passion and as I said, to be part of the Modo organization is great." Naslund did mention that the connection the two formed with the Canucks played a direct role in Smith being hired in Modo, which obviously, since it's all about relationships across pretty much every profession in the world.

Smith also told Allehanda that he initially went to coach in Europe because he needed a "change of scenery" following the death of his wife three years ago. That's heartbreaking, though Smith also mentions that he now has a girlfriend though she won't be moving with him to the hockey hotbed of Örnsköldsvik.

Quotes via  Aftonbladet  and Allehanda by way of google translate.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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