Brendan Smith signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with the Carolina Hurricanes during the second day of free agency, bringing some depth to the blueline along with an element of toughness and leadership.
Smith spoke with the media Tuesday afternoon via Zoom. Here’s what he had to say about signing with Carolina:
On reuniting with so many of his former teammates: The familiarity is really great. Obviously, we’re a different team, but it’s good to know guys that have been there and seen it. We know what we want to do. There’s one goal and we’re looking to bring the Cup back. We’re just trying to figure out what we can do to get prepared and it’s good to have those guys so that we can kind of talk in the offseason and figure out what we need to do.
On bringing toughness to the Hurricanes’ lineup: For sure. I think I kind of play a tough-nosed game. Being physical and hard. I think when you watch the playoffs, those are the kind of teams that go deep. The game has always been that way. It’s always been physical and I think it creates room for the skill guys on your team. That’s an area that I always feel I played and I enjoy it. If I can help the team in any aspect and obviously I feel that’s one area. where I love doing it and helping out guys and giving them that room. I’ll bring that for sure and I brought that my whole career so that’s something that without saying that’s something I do.
On having drawn 25 penalties as a defensemen last season and what about his style contributed to that: I think just getting into the corners and battling and I don’t like to lose battles by any means. I think when you get to those hard areas, you create opportunities for people to take penalties on you. I guess that’s one area. A lot of people have said that I’m ultra-competitive, so I never want to give up on a play and sometimes people will take you down if you have better body position. To be honest, playing with the Red Wings at a young age in my career, I got to play with some fantastic players. A guy that really jumped out and taught me a lot was Pavel Datsyuk. Just his body positioning and how he controlled the puck. Just the things I would do with him after practice where we’d play keepaway — he’d keep the puck away from me a lot more than I did to him — but he taught me similar things on how to have body positioning. When you have body position, people have to take a penalty against you to get the puck off of you and I think through my career, learning from these players has helped me in aspects like that. But like I said, it gives your team a chance to score on the power play and I think I’ve done that for a long time and it’s something that not many people notice, but your teammates obviously respect.
On what he expects to bring off the ice and around the community: I would say one of my biggest aspects is that I’m a vocal guy. I’ve been around for a little bit as well and I’ve kind of seen how the game is. One thing for me that I really have enjoyed as I’ve gotten older, is kind of helping the younger guys find their footstep and figure out what they need to be their best player. I remember being those kinds of guys. Just to be an older guy and give them wisdom in any aspect. Last year playing with the Rangers, I got to help out a lot of young D-corp. An easy one for me to talk about is a Fox-Lindgren pair, where I thought they just flourished and took off. That’s something I want to bring because I’ve been around long enough. But just being a vocal leader and a guy that’s seen it. In the community, I want to be as impactful as possible. I have two little kids. A three year old boy, Nolan, and a one year old girl, Ryan, so we’re looking to be in the community and kind of just getting to know our fans a little bit more in that aspect. I feel like I did that in both Detroit and New York so that’s something that we’ll definitely want to do and kind of just make it a home.
On what his view is heading into camp on where he is going to fit in on the blueline: I think you’re always competing for a job. Whether you’re already at the top, you’re always trying to compete to get better at something. For me, one of the reasons I came here was that I was able to talk to Rod and just figure out that people are competing for those positions and having that is healthy. It makes everybody better. It makes us prepared for the season and I’m excited to try and take a position. For me, I’m just here to plug in and help out in any aspect. There’s one goal and I said this earlier, it’s to win. I know from my years of playing that I can move up and down the lineup, whether it be due to injuries or whatever the instance is, because it’s a long season. I know I can fill in and play top minutes and then go back and play normal minutes as a bottom pair 5/6 and if needed for me to move down the lineup for people to get in the lineup. Whatever the instance, I’m up for it. I’m just here, like I said, for one goal. The more you can get people pulling on that chain I think that’s where you get that comradery, you get that team moving in the right direction and that’s how you win. When you hear from some of these teams and guys that have won before, and I know from the Red Wings, everybody is so selfless and they do what they have to do to win. That’s kind of the culture that I’ve wanted to emulate and if I can bring that on, I think it’ll just help the whole team.
On if he thinks the defense can be as strong even with the turnover: I think it’s very strong. Looking at it, I was pretty impressed. I think what the Canes have done in the offseason has been fantastic. I think now with the game, everybody is so fast and strong and there’s injuries no matter what, but you can fill in. I see we have eight NHL defensemen and, like I said, you never want to lose those games because of injuries and that’s one of the hardest things to do through the season is to win those games when you’re down a couple of players. When you have a D-corp like ours, you can kind of just fill a pair in. I know that coaches are looking for somebody to take the job and by doing that, you’re playing well. I’m really excited. I like our D-corp and I think it’s pretty fantastic. It’s got to be one of the best in the league — and obviously, I’m biased because I’m here — but it’s something I’m very much looking forward to.
On his impressions on Tony DeAngelo: All I know is Tony for who he is. I’m very close with Tony, he’s a fantastic guy. Obviously, we all know that there’s been some mistakes made, but he’s growing and he’s going to get past it. I just think we have today in Tony is an elite player and he’s got elite skill. And to be honest, we got him really cheap. These are things that are all very positive. He’s an elite passer in the league and you guys will find this out more as the season goes on. You can read these things because everybody’s talking about losing Dougie Hamilton and he’s a player that’s hard to match, but a guy like Tony DeAngelo, with his offensive ability, he can really step in and do a lot of the similar things. I just remember watching him as a player with the Rangers and what he did was pretty phenomenal. It was spectacular to watch and the way he reads the game offensively is amazing. So I know what kind of person he is and what kind of player he is and I think personally, that the Canes are lucky to have him. And at the same time, he’s lucky to have the Canes. I just think it’s going to be a great situation and like everybody, anytime you get older, you grow, you mature and I’m just looking for him to, and I think he can be the X-factor for sure.
On if he’d still be up for playing forward: Personally, I’d like to be done with it. But as I told you, I’m just here to help the team win. It doesn’t really matter. If I get asked to do it, I’ll want a little bit more details on why, but for me, I want to stick to defense. It’s what I’ve done pretty much my whole career. I think I bring more defensively, but like I said, it doesn’t matter. Once you get to push comes to shove and you’re trying to win games, whatever coach and management needs me to do, I’ll do it.