Smith excited about Friday's debut
Rookie defenseman to play first game at JLA
“I’m excited and I’m nervous,” Smith said. “It’s my first pro game here. But the biggest thing is that you have to mellow out your emotions, because sometimes they can take over your nerves.”
Smith, the Red Wings’ top draft choice in 2007, is a big, solid defenseman who will make his first career preseason debut when the Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.
The Red Wings signed Smith to a three-year entry level contract last May. The Mimico, Ontario native spent the last three years honing his skills at the University of Wisconsin, where he finished last season as a Hobey Baker finalist. He led the nation in scoring among defensemen as a junior, scoring 15 goals with 37 assists.
But while he was among the best U.S. college players, Friday’s debut will be a whole new experience.
“My routine is to stay calm and not to get too focused on the game during the day,” Smith said. “Just go about my day. Taking a nap is huge, get a nice pre-game meal. Every single game I try to eat some pasta and grab a sandwich, just little things like that, and the nap has always been huge to me since I was 14 or 15.”
Smith is a long-shot to make the Red Wings’ regular-season roster, and it’s fair to say that he’s probably the No. 9 defenseman in the organization, following Jakub Kindl and Doug Janik.
Smith will likely begin the upcoming season in Grand Rapids, but he won’t need much of a pep talk from the coaching staff before Friday’s game.
“They’re not trying to tell us too much, not to get us too excited,” he said. “But obviously, we’re all excited, because this is the first one at the Joe and we’re playing the defending Stanley Cup champions. … We want to win this one.”