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Mike Smith (b. 1945)

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This article is about the NHL general manager. For the article about the goaltender with the same name, please see Mike Smith (b. 1982).

Michael A. Smith (born 1945 in Potsdam, New York) is an American hockey executive who was best known for his stints as general manager of the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks franchises.

NHL YearsEdit

Mike was hired by the New York Rangers as an assistant coach prior to the start of the 1982–83 season. He would spend fourteen years in the Jets organization working in various capacities from general manager, head coach and director of scouting among some of his notable accolades with the team. Following the team's relocation to Phoenix, Arizona, he was appointed the associate general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, some pundits viewed him as being the de facto GM to team president Ken Dryden. A couple of Smith's noteworthy moves during his time with the Leafs were the hiring of Pat Quinn as head coach and the signing of Curtis Joseph prior to the start of the 1998–99 season. Despite the 28 point turnaround, Smith's contract wasn't renewed and he would later re-surface as the director of hockey operations for the Chicago Blackhawks prior to being appointed the team's permanent GM a few weeks into the start of the 2000–01 season. He was fired by the Hawks in 2003, after losing a power struggle with Hawks management.


Smith has been heavily criticized for his frequent drafting of Russian players. During his stint as the Jets general manager, he drafted players such as Alexei Zhamnov, Igor Korolev, Sergei Bautin and Nikolai Khabibulin. Smith also was responsible for drafting Jets mainstays Teemu Selänne and Keith Tkachuk. His tenure in Chicago was considered a disaster as he failed to address many of the team's holes and drafted first round flops such as Mikhail Yakubov, Pavel Vorobiev, Adam Munro and Anton Babchuk. Another move that many hockey pundits viewed as laughable was his hiring of Alpo Suhonen as the team's head coach as Suhonen was deemed too soft as a coach, along with his refusal to discipline players and change up lines during long losing streaks. Suhonen ended up quitting before season's end. Smith was also criticized by the Chicago media for his acquisitions of ex Toronto Maple Leafs such as Korolev, Garry Valk, Todd Gill and Alexander Karpovtsev, moves which essential dubbed the team "the Chicago Maple Leafs".

Work with Team USAEdit

Smith has been heavily involved with USA Hockey, having served as the coach and general manager for the team's 1981, 1994 and 1995 appearances at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships. In addition, he serves on the advisory board to USA Hockey.

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