Where Are They Now?

Where Are They Now With Geoff Smith

Friday, 07.6.2007 / 4:30 PM ET / 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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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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