U SPORTS WHKY: Legendary McGill coach, Peter Smith steps down after 21 years

Montreal, QC- Four nationals championships, 500+ wins and a trio of U SPORTS Coach of the Year awards, Peter Smith is leaving his head coaching role after 21 seasons with the McGill Martlets hockey team. 

Smith, 67, is one of only three U SPORTS women’s hockey head coaches to reach 500 wins, alongside former Concordia Stingers head coach Les Lawton, and current University of Alberta bench boss, Howie Draper. 

Coach Peter Smith calls it a career
Smith and the Martlets following his 500th win (McGill Athletics)

“This has been an emotional time and a difficult decision for me. Coaching the Martlets these past 21 years has been an incredible journey and a huge part of my life,” said Smith to McGill Athletics. “I have been so fortunate to have worked with and coached so many amazing people. Winning games and championships have been exciting, but more rewarding, has been witnessing the growth and development of these young women as players, teammates, leaders and most importantly, as people. The relationships built will last a lifetime.”

While Smith has been with the Montreal-based school for over two decades, he took a one-year sabbatical in 2009-10, joining Hockey Canada and the quest for Olympic gold on home soil at Vancouver 2010. He was also a part of the Torino 2006 winning coaching staff but did not leave his post with the Martlets. 

Smith at Vancouver 2010 (Peter Smith Facebook)

Although his coaching days are over, the legendary bench-boss will be sticking around the athletics program as a mentor and resource person for McGill coaches and staff. 

Peter Smith’s Legacy

Through 21 years of work, Peter Smith has launched the careers and lives of so many athletes, coaches and friends, both in hockey and away from the ice. He coached 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, Kim St-Pierre and multi-time Olympic medalists Catherine Ward, Melodie Daoust among others. 

In 2007, he was the first beneficiary of a $1 million gift from Sheryl and David Kerr to the McGill women’s hockey team ensuring the programs’ funding for a head coach. At the time, it was the largest single donation to a women’s sports program in U SPORTS history. 

Winningest women's hockey coach in McGill history, Peter Smith, calls it a  career | CTV News
(McGill Athletics)

While the players have been a the forefront of Smith’s time as a coach, he has also helped develop some of the smartest hockey minds in the world. Jack Han, a former assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs, got into analytics and coaching with Smith, who answered a call from a kid with no experience, and today, Mikael Nahabedian is following those footsteps. 

Although Smith will no longer be involved with the day-to-day of the hockey team, he leaves his post with countless accolades, and as one of the most successful Canadian hockey coaches who made an effect on people both on and off the ice. 

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