NEWARK, NJ - There's an ease walking into your second NHL Development Camp. You know the staff, the players, and the locker room.
"I kind of know what I'm doing a little more [this year]," he said. "I guess I'm also trying to help those young guys that are coming in. I know how it feels to be those guys, so I want to help them out and have some fun."
Video: DEV CAMP | Smith - First Day
Smith is back for his second development camp, less than a year after being one of the Devil final cuts out of main camp for the 2018-19 NHL season.
"I was pretty fortunate to make it as far as I did, in terms of cuts with the Devils," Smith said. "I got to play a couple pre-season games, I got to experience that. When you come in to tryouts, you're coming in to make a team so obviously it was unfortunate when I didn't make it but it motivated me, I guess, to improve my game in all the area's I possibly can and try and make the team."
It was a moment that was caught on camera while in Winnipeg and the Devils preparing to travel to Switzerland for the NHL Global Series. Smith gave himself the flight from Winnipeg to Spokane to feel the made about being cut from the NHL roster, but once the plane touched down "I had to flip the switch" he said.
"It was tough to get cut. But at the same time it was kind of motivating. I know that I have stuff to improve on and once I got off the plane and back into Spokane I had to flip the switch and stop being mad about [being cut]. You keep it in the back of your mind, but be happy that I've got a good team in [Spokane]."
And 'flip the switch' he certainly did. Smith's season with the Spokane Chiefs ended short of a championship, but on a personal level, he took major strides with his game. He was awarded the Bill Hunter Trophy as the WHL's Defenseman of the Year after a year with seven goals and 62 assists in 57 games. His 62 assists lead all WHL blueliners. Smith also quarterbacked the WHL's top power-play unit and logged 31 points with the man-advantage.
"I think it was definitely tough to be cut," he said. "[It's] not something you want but at the end of the day when I got to go back to Spokane and play lots of minutes and be a guy used in all situations and relied on pretty heavily and a leader on the team I think that definitely helped my development and will help me for the future, I think."
When development camp wraps up, Smith will head back to the Vancouver area where he has been working with Ian Gallagher, father to Montreal Canadiens assistant captain Brendan Gallagher. Along with Brendan, Smith works out in the gym with the elder Gallagher who the owner and Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Delta Hockey Academy.
"I think working out with his dad, his dad is pretty cool," Smith said. "He's pretty hard on us. Since I'm living with [Brendan], we're at his dad's place for dinner pretty often because we're not very good cooks. His mom's cooking for us. Now that he's pretty close with me, I think he's really keying on me in the gym and making me work that much harder. So I think that part of things is really good for me and I guess as far as living with him, he's probably the most competitive human I know. So, it's pretty good to be around. It can be frustrating at times because I like to win, so it's frustrating when I lose [to him] but it's definitely good to be around all the time and see what a pro acts like away from the rink and in the summer."
Tough Questions With… Ty Smith
What was your favorite sports rivalry growing up? Steelers against Ravens. Hockey-wise, Oilers and Flames. I was close to Edmonton.
What's the most expensive thing you've ever broken? I can't really think of anything, but I'd have to say a hockey stick.
What's the least favorite nickname you've ever been given? These guys here call me "Smithy", probably that one. It's really weird and I've never been called that before. It's Mikey [McLeod] and Nate [Bastian] that call me that, the only two.
What language do you wish you could speak fluently? Any of those European ones that you hear in the locker room. Or probably Russian, they're sometimes the ones that know the least English.
What meal can you best prepare for yourself, admittedly you've already told the media you're not a great cook. Any part of the day? Breakfast. Eggs, toast, bacon.
If you weren't a hockey player, what would you be pursuing as a career? [Zero hesitation] A magician.
(So, I obviously had to follow this one up. I asked Ty if he does magic, to which he replied "I have a couple of tricks. Mostly, card tricks but I'm trying to expand.")
What's the longest road trip you've ever taken? My family did a road-trip from Lloydminster, Alberta to Los Angeles, which was a couple of days. I had a hockey tournament [when I was 12] there over Christmas, so it was a Christmas/hockey tournament trip.
Is a hotdog a sandwich? No.
What character on TV's life would you like to live? The Flash, Barry Allen.
What chore do you least like to do? I do all the chores at the house. Brendan [Gallagher] doesn't do anything. I really don't like moping or Swiffering the floors.