When the current WHL season began, many pundits pointed to the Kamloops Blazers as one of the top teams in the Western Conference. With a veteran roster and proven offensive producers, it was suggested the team would be a handful for its rivals in the B.C. Division.
Alas, the inconsistency has led to an early season coaching change and some very definite soul-searching in Blazerville. A disastrous road trip through the Eastern Conference saw the team lose the last five of their six games against East Division teams. Upon their return home, head coach Barry Smith was replaced, but the Blazers were promptly trounced at home in consecutive games by the Chillwack Bruins (7-1) and the Tri City Americans (8-3). The club has rebounded of late, winning two in a row at home over the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Kelowna Rockets.
Scott Ferguson and Geoff Smith (pictured) are currently handling the coaching duties. Both are WHL grads and former NHLers. We spoke with Smith, the Edmonton Oilers second pick in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, at length today about his role and about a few veterans in Kamloops. You can listen to an excerpt below, as Smith talks about defencmen Giffen Nyren and Zak Stebner, goaltender Justin Leclerc, and forward C.J. Stretch.