SPOKANE, Wash. — There are new "Chiefs" in town for the Spokane Chiefs.
The team introduced Ryan Smith as permanent head coach and Dustin Donaghy as assistant coach Monday, June 27. This comes after the two took over in February and turned things around, going 12-13-1-0 to close the season and get the Chiefs in the playoffs.
"Sometimes, when you're going through this you don't know if you're ever going to get the opportunity and I always wanted to be a head coach. I always had the desire," said Ryan Smith "I knew there's steps for certain people. I'm not an NHL guy, you gotta work and keep going. So, today is a proud moment for me, but a proud moment for my family as well."
After taking over late in the season, Smith helped guide the Chiefs to five wins in the final seven games of the season to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Now, he'll take over a team he knows all about, unlike a new hire.
"Yeah, it helps the familiarity of the team. The players, they know me, they know Dustin, that will help. That gives us a kick start instead of a new guy coming in and trying to implement some of the things," said Smith. "We'll spin some new stuff on them because we need to and that's just the way the game goes, but knowing these guys, knowing their personality, knowing the way that they play, where they are and let's see what they're at in training camp will be a big thing."
Dustin Donaghy also gets the permanent title as assistant coach.
Donaghy is no stranger to Spokane. He played three seasons with the Chiefs and was a part of the 2007-2008 Memorial Cup winning team. For him, today was an example of hard work paying off.
"I put my foot in the door and I didn't let anybody close it on me. I was here everyday and made sure everybody saw me and made sure I contributed to something," said Donaghy. "Ultimately, that's why I think I'm here because I did not let them close the door on me. Not that I want to say I forced them to hire me, but I put myself in a position where they really couldn't say no."
Now, the work begins for the two and Smith sees a bright future ahead.
"I really, really enjoyed some of the stuff that we saw at times," said Smith. "Glimpses of it that got you excited. So, seeing some more of that and learning that that group has that in their arsenal is going to be pretty productive for us going forward."
Spokane Chiefs hockey returns to Spokane Arena on October 1st for the team's first home game of the season.