One year after practising daily with the Junior A Vernon Vipers, Jerred Smithson has revived his pro hockey career.
Smithson, 36, sat out last NHL season as a free agent, but will play for the Herning Blue Fox in the Danish Metal Ligaen this season. Herning is three hours from Copenhagen.
The defensive specialist is one of three North American imports – others are from Ontario and Wisconsin. Smithson weighed two offers to play in Germany, one other in Denmark and and others in Slovakia and England. He has played 606 NHL games for five teams, compiling 39 goals and 96 points.
The Blue Fox supply Smithson with a new car and a condo. He and his wife, Jaymie (neé Hackman) have a two-year-old son, Hunter.
“We chose Denmark for a few reasons but first was the country itself,” Smithson told The Morning Star. “Everyone that I’ve talked to had nothing but great things to say about the country and the quality of life. Making sure my family was safe and happy was the most important thing.
“Second was the organization in Herning. They have a very competitive team year after year and want to win a championship very bad. So far the team has done everything in their power to make sure I have everything I need and my family needs to be happy and comfortable at and away from the rink.”
Herning head coach Mario Simioni feels the signing is significant.
“Clearly the wildest signing this season and rarely have we seen any in the league with as many games under its belt in the world’s best league of the world’s best players,” said Simioni on the team’s website. “At the same time, it is also great for the league to be able to pull such a name for it will certainly be interesting to follow him in the many upcoming matches.”
Smithson, who last played an NHL game in November, 2013 for the Maple Leafs, says the pace is fast.
“There is a lot more puck possession with a lot less hitting. We have a wide range of skill on our team with some players being as young as 17 and as old as 36. That would be me.
“It will take some time for me to adjust to the larger ice surface but I love the idea of handling the puck more and not being forced to dump it in as much as I had to in the past. I’m really excited about being back on the ice playing again and having the opportunity to travel the world with the family.”
Smithson plans to do some travelling during two national team breaks (13-day break in November and one 10-day breather in February). He hopes to meet up with buddy Lanny Gare and his family in Germany.
Added Simioni: “Jerred comes with massive experience to the team, and he will be able to take the lead through an upcoming exciting season. It is a role that fits the new player well and which are well in line with his previous roles at various star-studded teams. He has not merely looked on from the lower ranges. He has also been part of the power play setup needed and special situations in general.
“Jerred Smithson is a super solid two-way player who plays a direct and disciplined game against opponents. In Herning, Frans Nielsen (Dane with the New York Islanders) also plays the same type of game with solid two-way work. He also plays very clean, efficient and really great hockey. Smithson’s going to give the team very much for training, fighting and generally in all the season’s many facets.”