Smith goes back to school

Red Wings' defenseman will spend summer studying at University of Wisconsin

Thursday, 05.01.2014 / 6:14 AM
Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT – Knowing that idle hands are the devil’s workshop, Brendan Smith has decided to go back to school during what will be a long offseason.

The Red Wings’ defenseman plans to return to the University of Wisconsin to continue working on his Bachelor’s degree in sociology.

“I have to finish my classes and I know my mom is really pushing for that,” Smith said. “It’s the best decision to chip away.”

Some credits in his major can be satisfied through online courses, but Smith has to finish a few prerequisites, which require classroom attendance, so he plans to stay on campus this summer.

“I’m not going to take a full course load but I’ll be taking courses this summer and that’s the biggest thing,” Smith said. “Then I’ll be working out there and staying there with Reilly when he’s done.”

Reilly Smith’s Boston Bruins are getting ready for their Round 2 series against the Montreal Canadiens.

A former star for the Badgers and the Red Wings’ 2007 first-round draft pick, Brendan Smith left Madison, Wis., following his junior season to sign an NHL contract.

“It was three years ago. So it’s been quite some time (since he last attended classes),” said Smith, who believes he's 37 credits shy of graduating. “Mom kind of got off my back about it because I was just starting to play in the NHL but once I got that under my belt she wanted me to get back at it.”

The desire to return to the classroom is fueled by Smith’s post-playing career ambition.

“Something that I would be good at is being a college coach and you need a degree for that, so that’s a big motivator for me,” Smith said. “There’s life after hockey and that’s something that everybody has to know. It would be nice to do something after your career. … We always want to stay in the hockey world and for me I think that that would be coaching at the university level.”

A very talented defenseman, Smith saw some growth in his game, especially when he was paired with Niklas Kronwall after Jonathan Ericsson underwent season-ending finger surgery in March.

In his first full NHL season, Smith produced five goals and 19 points with a minus-2 rating in 71 regular-season games with the Red Wings.

“I thought I played well,” Smith said. “Even last year I thought I played really well. I think I got a lot of criticism last year, I’m not sure the reason for all of it but I did. I thought I played really well and this year I also played well in the playoffs. I think I somehow have figured out a way to get a little more out of myself for playoff time. I think you have to because everybody bumps their game up and I think I was able to learn that quickly last year with the playoffs.

“I got so many players that I can watch and feed off of and I think I got a lot better like that.”

Smith feels that the experience of facing Stanley Cup contending Chicago and Boston in the last two postseasons will go a long way for him and the rest of the young Red Wings.

“I think it’s going to help us a lot,” Smith said. “We just played, I think, the best team. In my mind it’s Boston and Chicago. I’m not saying that they’re way better than everyone. That’s not want I’m saying. What I’m saying is they have found ways to win. I mean, you see Boston do it, they won the Presidents’ Trophy, they found ways to win. That’s something that we got to see, that we felt first hand, and I think that will help us for the time being for next year and getting ready. I think it’s really big for a lot of the young guys, for myself included. But to get the first taste of what playoff hockey is like and to play against a team that has made it to the playoffs for the last few years, and been to the finals and have been successful, I think that’s something that will be good for all of us.”

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