SAN JOSE, Calif., March 2 – It was a whirlwind day for Avon native Ben Smith Monday.
Smith participated in a morning skate in Chicago with the Blackhawks, found out he was traded to the San Jose Sharks, grabbed some clothes and flew across the country to play in San Jose’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. Smith scored a goal and had an assist in San Jose’s 4-0 victory.
“I don’t think too many guys take a pregame skate half a country away, land, throw your gear on and have that kind of game,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan told Reuters. “That’s speaks volumes about Ben’s character.”
It was Smith’s first goal since Dec. 20. Smith said, “You want to come in and show you can help and try to find a way to give that team a boost. It starts shift by shift trying to do the small things that can uplift a team.”
First, he had to get to San Jose. He was at the airport in Chicago at 1 p.m. and in the air at 2 p.m. When he landed in California, there was a car waiting for him and he had an escort from the police to get to the arena in time. Smith missed the pre-game skate but worked out on a stationary bike before hitting the ice with his new teammates.
“I felt very welcomed throughout the night,” he said. “Anytime you’re traded to a team you want to bring a boost whether they are a last place team or in first place.”
Smith scored a goal in the first seven minutes of the game. He later added an assist and took some shifts on the power play – a new role for Smith who spent much of his time on Chicago killing penalties.
“You have to stay poised, focused and get over that mental hurdle that it’s been a while (skating on the power play) and try to find a way to get it done,” he said.
“It was a nice way to start,” Smith said regarding the goal. “Any way I can help this win games and move forward is something I’ll do every day.”
Smith was surprised with the news that he had been traded. “You’re always shocked when it happens,” he said. “You can never really see it coming unless you ask for it. Once I got over the initial shock, I was excited – a team (Sharks) fighting for a playoff spot. I’m happy to come and help any way I can.”
San Jose plays in Vancouver tonight and looking ahead on the Sharks’ schedule, San Jose hosts Chicago on Saturday, March 14 at 4 p.m. With the Sharks, Smith will be wearing No. 21.