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Junior Hockey’s youngest GM draws inspiration from predecessor

By Chad Feehan
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
October 13, 2023 Edition

At 22, Ryan Smith is the CBR Junior Renegades’ youngest general manager, as well as the youngest in the St. John’s Junior Hockey League’s history.

Smith was team captain of the Renegades last season, and in his new role succeeds one of the big movers on the team’s management side, Steve Gillard, who died earlier this year.

Smith said Gillard was approachable and empathetic to the players, and always there if they needed anything. The new GM continues to be inspired by Gillard as he embarks on his new position.

“I’m doing my best to represent him and what he was like as a manager as much as I can,” said Smith. “Hopefully I can be the same way for the players…and just do whatever I can to make the guys feel comfortable.”

While there is a learning curve to the role of general manager, the league and coaching staff have been supportive, he said. And building on his relationships from his captain days has proved to be easy and beneficial in the new journey.

“A lot of those guys, I know very well,” said Smith, “Hopefully it’s easier for them to come to me.”

Alex Doody is the new captain of the Renegades and said he is glad to see a former teammate take on an exciting new role.

“It’s great having a new, young face that we’re all familiar with,” said Doody. “He’ll do a really good job, and he’s doing great so far.”

Doody said much of the team’s success in recent seasons was due to Smith’s efforts as a captain and the leadership he provided.

“He was the anchor to that team,” Doody said.

This isn’t the first time Doody has taken Smith’s place as captain on a hockey team. At Queen Elizabeth High School, Doody was Smith’s assistant captain before taking the leading role in Grade 12.

“I’m ready to take the ropes and lead a winning hockey team this year,” Doody said.

The reaction from the rest of the team to Smith’s elevation has been equally warm. Doody and the rest of the players have affectionately dubbed their new general manager “Ryan Dubas,” due to a resemblance to the former Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas, who was also younger than his counterparts as general manager in the NHL.

“He’s one of a kind,” Doody said of Smith. “One of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. One of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”

For Smith, the difference in being on the ice and watching as a participant spectator is palpable. He is able to get a broader sense of the game that is unfolding before him, picking up on events and patterns that players on the ice wouldn’t have the opportunity to focus on.

“It’s very interesting to see how the players’ minds tick,” Smith said.

The new GM is thankful to various mentors growing up, from the unwavering support of his parents, to coaches in the Conception Bay Regional Minor Hockey Association including Dave Eason and Jeff Fagan.

“I’ve been very, very fortunate,” Smith said. “I’m really thankful for all of them.”

Growing up, Smith liked to be involved with hockey in whatever way he could. He said he appreciates the opportunity to give back to the game in his new role as general manager of the CBR Junior Renegades. Smith is pictured here from last season with his parents David and Dana Smith.

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