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Canucks hire assistant coach for Manny Malhotra’s staff in Abbotsford, on the hunt for another

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Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
11 days ago
It’s been like an off-season game of musical chairs behind the Abbotsford Canucks bench. And the music hasn’t stopped just yet.
The Canucks hired Manny Malhotra to replace Jeremy Colliton as head coach in late May. At the time, the organization also parted ways with veteran assistant Gary Agnew, but Jeff Ulmer remained on the bench staff. That was until yesterday when the club announced Ulmer had tendered his resignation to pursue an NHL job believed to be in San Jose.
 
That left Malhotra with a clean slate, but without any assistant coaches. However, on Day 2 of Canucks summer development camp, the Abbotsford head coach revealed that he has already hired one assistant and is on the lookout for another.
Malhotra says Jordan Smith has made the jump from a similar role with AHL Springfield and will handle the defence corps in the Fraser Valley.
“He has a great track record in the hockey community in terms of the quality of person he is and the work he puts forth, so I was fortunate to come across him,” Malthora told reporters after on-ice sessions at the University of British Columbia. “We’ll now be on the hunt for another assistant and that process will begin ASAP.”
In Smith, the Canucks have added a 38-year-old who spent the past two seasons with the St. Louis Blues top farm team after five years of coaching in the Ontario Hockey League. Smith was a second round pick of Anaheim in the 2004 NHL Draft although he never played in the big leagues. In fact, he spent just two seasons playing professionally in the AHL before playing five years at Lakehead University.
Smith has been on the ice with the rest of the Canucks development staff through the first two days of the UBC camp as he gets his feet wet in the organization and in his new surroundings. 
As for rounding out his staff, Malhotra says he will work closely with both Patrik Allvin and Abbotsford GM Ryan Johnson. While it will be a consensus decision, Malhotra says he’s been given the freedom to conduct his own search and to find the right fit.
“Both Patrik and RJ have been incredible in terms of giving me the autonomy to hire the people that I want to hire and the people that I want to work with,” Malhotra explained. “Ultimately it comes down to putting together a staff that is cohesive, works well together and that you want to be around. RJ has done a great job in terms of compiling some names and resumes for me to go through. I’ve been doing some legwork myself, making some calls and finding out who is available. That’s been top of mind for me the last couple of works. So that will continue and we’ll work to find the right guy.”
Malhotra admitted the first couple of days of development camp have been a whirlwind learning the names and faces of the 28 prospects taking part. With the scaled down roster at UBC this week, there are likely only two or three players taking part that are destined to start the season in Abbotsford. Forward Josh Bloom and defencemen Christian Felton are the most-likely candidates to play for Malhotra. The remainder of camp attendees are likely to return to their junior and college programs for another season.

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