Departing Smokies coach says goodbye

Nick Deschenes reflects on this time with the Trail Smoke Eaters.

I would like to thank the people of Trail for welcoming myself and my family into your community over the past two years and three months. It has been a great experience. I’ve had the opportunity/challenge of coaching one of the most historic organizations in Canadian hockey history. From your dreary winters, where the sun seems to disappear, to your scorching hot summer days, it has been a truly gratifying experience.

I am proud to have helped reconnect the Trail Smoke Eaters with Trail minor hockey. Our players have been active in mentoring and supporting our local minor hockey teams over the past two seasons. Although it wasn’t perfect, lots of credit to the players and support staff for making this possible as I’m sure it has positively impacted many young players.

The Reading Program that was in place when I arrived continued to be a great program allowing our players to interact with local elementary students.

The establishment of the Booster Club over the past two seasons, largely a group of local parents along with the support of the community has been able to raise significant funds to help enhance the player experience in Trail. Their efforts must be recognized.

I am proud of the camps we ran to benefit our local players. They were affordable and helped to develop and support local talent. During my time as head coach 14 future and current Division I players have worn the Trail Smoke Eater jersey, three Division III players and six Canadian college players. With a few more on the horizon. As difficult as the Interior Division was, we maintained a 23-19-3 record against the rest of the league in my two full years behind the bench. Its no secret what our challenge was trying to get into a playoff position.

I would like to finally thank the executive and volunteers for giving me the opportunity to coach the Trail Smoke Eaters. Without their efforts and sacrifices I don’t have a job. I truly wished, sacrificed and worked for a better outcome.

Trail, you must now look forward and ask some difficult but necessary questions. Are the Trail Smoke Eaters an integral part of the community? Does the team serve as a beacon to the rest of the province and hockey world? Is the strong history and passion for hockey the foundation of your community?

If so, more needs to be done at all levels to keep this smoke stack lit.

Nick Deschenes