TORONTO, February 8 – His name is on the Stanley Cup. He played a full season in the National Hockey League with the Chicago Blackhawks, going with the team into the Western Conference finals.
But today, Avon native Ben Smith is playing in Toronto – in the American Hockey League with the Maple Leafs’ top minor league affiliate the Toronto Marlies.
But Smith, 29, isn’t sulking or brooding. He is playing hard. Through 46 games, he is the No. 2 scorer for the Marlies with 19 goals, 16 assists and 35 points. The Marlies have gone 13-0-1 in their last 13 games and have the best record in the AHL at 35-11-1.
In early January, Smith was named captain for the first time in his career. He was an alternate captain with the Rockford Ice Hogs, the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in 2012-13, and at Boston College.
Several years ago, Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock was asked what he expected of veterans assigned to play with the Marlies. Earlier this season, reporter Adam Proteau shared what Babcock said in December 2015 in a feature story about Smith.
“I guess the first thing I want to see is I want you go down (to the AHL) and treat the other people right and show leadership,” Babcock told reporters three years ago. “Find your game and then come up here (to the NHL) and play good. Your obligation as a player is to make sure you’re ready to go mentally and physically.”
Smith told Proteau in November, “You’ve got to be ready for your opportunities and you’ve got to be a good guy and work hard. That’s how I’ve always approached it.”
Read more on Smith’s early-season success with the Marlies.
The Marlies made a visit to Hartford in October to play the Wolfpack and lost 5-3. The Marlies aren’t scheduled to play any more regular season games in New England this season.
Smith grew up in Avon and played his high school hockey at the Westminister School in Simsbury. He played his collegiate hockey at Boston College.
|2016||San Jose (A)||AHL||14||8||2||10|
*As of February 9, 2018
|NHL playoff totals||27||7||2||9||1|
|AHL playoff totals||18||3||7||10|