Forty-five years after he broke into the NHL with his hometown team, Vancouver Canucks legend Stan Smyl’s shift is nearing its end.
The NHL team announced Thursday that Smyl, 68, would step back from daily duties with the club and shift into a team ambassador role, similar to how former Canucks players Jyrki Lumme, Dave Babych, Darcy Rota and Kirk McLean are employed.
Smyl had served as the team’s vice-president since late 2021, shortly after Jim Rutherford was hired as the team’s president of hockey operations. Smyl served briefly as interim general manager between Jim Benning’s dismissal on Dec. 6, 2021 and Rutherford’s hiring three days later.
“When I moved to Vancouver in 1978, I could not have imagined the positive journey it would become over the next 40-plus years,” Smyl said in a statement supplied by the team.
“This team and community have meant everything to me and my family. We are truly grateful for all of the relationships and experiences we have shared together.”
At the press conference where team chairman Francesco Aquilini named him interim GM, Smyl made it clear the passion he has for the team.
“I have been a Canuck for 40 years. This is my team. My only team,” he said.
Vancouver Canucks Stan Smyl during 1980s.In the months following his hiring, Rutherford regularly noted Smyl’s important role as an adviser in aiding Rutherford adapt to the organization.
“We appreciate what Stan does for the Canucks and he has been a true professional to work with,” Rutherford told Postmedia Thursday.
Canucks president of business operations Michael Doyle paid tribute to Smyl’s long tenure with the club.
“Stan is a role model for every hockey player past and present,” Doyle said in a statement. “He has committed his life to his team and his community, and we are fortunate that he will remain an ambassador for the organization going forward.”
Smyl made the Canucks as a rookie in 1978, a few months after being named Memorial Cup MVP while playing for the New Westminster Bruins.
He was named the team’s captain late in the 1981-82 season and led his team all the way to the Stanley Cup final.
Known as much for his hustle and drive as for his goal scoring, Smyl was seen as the spirit of the Canucks team throughout the 1980s, which was a mostly lean period of success for the team.
Smyl and his wife, Jennifer, who died just over a year ago, became celebrities in town.
Smyl retired after the 1990-91 season and was named an assistant coach by Pat Quinn, the team’s president, GM and head coach.
That fall, Smyl was also honoured as the first retired number in team history.
Over the years he served in several roles, including minor league head coach, collegiate scouting director and senior adviser to general manager Benning.
Recommended from Editorial
Canucks: The final pre-season roster questions
Canucks Coffee: What you need to know from last game to start your day
Bookmark our website and support our journalism: Don’t miss the news you need to know — add VancouverSun.com and TheProvince.com to your bookmarks and sign up for our newsletters here.
You can also support our journalism by becoming a digital subscriber: For just $14 a month, you can get unlimited, ad-lite access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun | The Province.