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Where Are They Now?

Where Are They Now With Geoff Smith

Friday, 07.06.2007 / 4:30 PM / Panthers Alumni
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Where Are They Now With Geoff Smith
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com

There’s roughly 3,400 miles separating Kamloops, British Columbia from South Florida, but Geoff Smith has never felt that far removed from his playing days as a member of the 1996 Panthers.

“The town, the city, the people…it was incredible,” said Smith, a defenseman on the ’96 team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals and will reunite the weekend of July 27-28 for the ‘Weekend of the Rat.’

Smith, who played 134 games during his three years with the Panthers, has been busy since leaving hockey after playing his final season with the Rangers in 1998-99.

Smith, who remembers attending the thoroughbred races while with the Panthers at Gulfstream Park, breeds and races horses in British Columbia and also owns The Thirsty Dog, a restaurant, pub and nightclub with 36 televisions that Smith says is tuned in most nights to the NHL.

“When I left hockey I bought a small pizza place in town,” Smith said. “Then my friend Murray Baron, who played in Philly and Montreal and a couple other places, asked me to buy into a country bar up here called Calico Jacks. I ran that for seven years before going on my own with the Thirsty Dog about a year and a half ago.”

Smith, married with two children, also owns a 20-acre farm outside Kamloops where he breeds and sells thoroughbreds. He’s currently high on a 2-year-old horse he bred in Kentucky to the stakes-winning sire Richter Scale.

While Smith loves to talk horses, he’s excited about returning to South Florida for the first time since leaving the NHL and playing in a reunion game July 28 at BankAtlantic Center.

“You know, people up here follow hockey and they still remember that team and the story of Mell (Scott Mellanby) smacking the rat and the good luck it brought,” said Smith, a smooth skater who was acquired from Edmonton in 1993 for draft picks.

“I think the thing I remember about that team, though, was how close the team was,” he added. “With the exception of (goalie) John Vanbiesbrouck, there really wasn’t any superstars on the team. But we worked hard every night. The games we lost were usually by a goal. We had great coaches and the fans seemed to respond.

“The people were tremendous. The game was kind of new to the area and the fans were so behind us. I mean, our practices were packed with people, and they always seemed to be talking hockey.”

Smith says he occasionally makes contact with some of his former teammates, including Brian Skrudland and Ed Jovanovski. “But, you know, whenever you bump into somebody from that team it’s like seeing a long, lost brother,” Smith said. “I called Mellanby when he was out here for a game a few years back and he called me from the dressing room that day to say hello. That’s how guys are.”

Smith said he’ll tear himself away from the Thirsty Dog and the ponies to come to South Florida for a week with his family for the ‘Year of the Rat’ reunion.

“I can’t wait,” he said.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 63 22 16 -8 38
J. Huberdeau 60 9 27 4 36
J. Jokinen 62 6 28 0 34
A. Ekblad 63 10 23 8 33
B. Boyes 61 11 21 9 32
J. Jagr 59 12 19 -9 31
J. Hayes 54 17 10 -5 27
B. Campbell 63 3 20 3 23
A. Barkov 52 10 12 -4 22
T. Fleischmann 52 7 14 12 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .920 2.40
A. Montoya 5 6 2 .891 2.98
 
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