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Smith has Long History with New Goaltending Coach

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – The Coyotes on Tuesday hired Jon Elkin to coach the team's goalies, replacing Sean Burke.

Elkin, who has coached at the NHL, AHL, WHL, QMJHL and OHL levels, operates Jon Elkin's Goalie Schools in Toronto.

Mike Smith. Photo by Norm Hall
"This is a great challenge and I'm always excited to take on great challenges," said Elkin, who served as goaltending coach for the Calgary Flames from 1999-2002. "To coach at the top level of the world again is something that I'm extremely excited about. After my meetings with with Don Maloney and Dave Tippett, they seem like solid guys so I feel very comfortable about the environment I'm entering."

Elkin also is thrilled to be working with Coyotes goalie Mike Smith. That's because he has mentored Smith since Smith first started as a student at Elkin's school when he was 12 years old. Smith is now 33.

"I'm excited," Smith said. "Obviously Jon has been in my corner for a lot of years. It's tough to replace Sean and I'll always be thankful for what he has done for my career, but if there's a guy coming in to take over the reigns, I'm glad it's Jon because he knows my game inside and out."

He added, "Jon's really good at the technical side of the game and he breaks down video so well. His attention to detail is incredible. He'll have me at the top of my game technically and fundamentally, and I'm excited about that. Having him there will keep me on top of things."

Smith plans to work closely with Elkin in Toronto later this summer leading up to training camp in September.

"I think we have a good plan in place right now to ramp things up coming into camp and to be ready to go when camp starts this year and not be behind the eight ball, so to speak," Smith said.

Elkin said he believes he and Smith will work well together at the NHL level.

"I'm always excited about working with Mike," Elkin said. "He has the potential to play really good hockey very consistently. To work with a goalie with such potential is all a goalie coach can ask for. It's up to us to put in some good work and some smart work and make sure we realize that potential. That's the job and it excites me."

So, will their long-standing friendship affect their new working relationship?

Mike Smith. Photo by Norm Hall.
"The key there is both parties knowing how to separate the two relationships and to realize that business is business," Elkin said. "The most important thing is we have a mutual respect and an understanding of each other. That's very helpful for the work we are doing on the ice."

Other well-known clients of Elkin include Peter Budaj, Justin Peters and Andrew Raycroft.

"When I went to Jon's goalie school I knew right away it was far greater than the ones I'd been to prior to that," Smith said. "The moment I stepped on the ice at his camp I knew he was very intense and very thorough and his attention to detail was far better than anyone else."

Elkin also will work with new Coyotes backup goalie Anders Lindback as he looks to build on a strong finish to last season with Buffalo.

"I want to be more consistent," Lindback said earlier this off-season. "Hopefully Arizona will be a good fit for that. I'm excited for that opportunity."

Elkin said he has not yet met Lindback nor has he spoken with him.

"I've observed him play NHL games and I have some work to do still to understand his game as well as I do Mike's, so I'll be going over a lot of video of him," Elkin said. "At some point we'll get together prior to the season, hopefully, and I'll have some things I'd like to address with him. We’ll have a little back-and-forth communication and see if he's comfortable with what I’m selling, and then we'll get to work. I'm looking forward to helping him out."

NOTE: The Coyotes also hired former NHL goalie Corey Schwab as a second goaltending coach. Schwab will handle the development of the young goalies within the organization.

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