Former Trail Smoke Eater player and Nelson native Cam Keith is returning to the Smokies as its new head coach and GM.
“I’m extremely excited,” said Keith. “My heart has always been in Trail wherever I’ve travelled in this continent and another continent. I’ve always kept tabs on the Smoke Eaters organization and it’s truly exciting to be able to come back and be on the other side of the hockey spectrum, from a coaching perspective.”
Keith is coming off a two-year stint as assistant coach with the Nashville Predators affiliate Cincinnati Cyclones of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). The 35 year old played hockey for the Smoke Eaters alongside assistant coach Craig Clare during the 1999-2000 season and in 54 games Keith scored 28 goals and 30 assists for 58 points. He also played for the ‘96-97 Beaver Valley Nitehawks Cyclone Taylor Cup winning team.
Keith also spent two seasons with the Victoria Salsa of the BCHL before the Smoke Eaters, and attended University of Alaska, Fairbanks where he put up 100 points in 144 games. He played 10 seasons of pro hockey with the Hartford Wolf Pack, St. John’s Maple Leafs, and Peoria Rivermen of the AHL, and the Pensacola Ice Pilots and Alaska Aces of the ECHL, where he won a Kelly Cup in ‘06, and Arizona Sundogs of the CHL. He also played three seasons in Germany with the Eisperaten Crimmitschau.
“I had a pretty good career in the coastal league and fortunate to be part of a championship team,” said Keith. “And when you’re part of a good organization and winning team that usually means strength of character, and people want people that have been part of winning organizations.”
Keith brings a wealth of playing experience and is looking forward to his return to the orange and black as coach with a plan to cultivate local talent.
“I want to put emphasis on developing young kids in the area and making sure that the kids in the area don’t go to other BCHL teams or junior A teams but stay in Trail and build the team that way.”
Keith will attend the Smokies evaluation camp in Coeur d’Alene at the beginning of July and commence recruiting and preparing for the main camp in August.
“I have an idea in mind of the kind of players I want to bring, but we also have a core group returning. I trust the coaching staff and organization, they’ve given me the low down on the kids they want back and they’re the kind of kids that we need here, so it should be a natural transition.”
Keith will be joined by his wife and two sons.