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Newest Flame Mark Smith thrives on energy

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames
The newest Calgary Flame can be expected to have some wacky hairdos, some mean guitar riffs and plenty of energy.

Mark Smith, a former San Jose Shark, signed as a free agent by the Flames, was described as an agitator by one media type on Monday morning. Head coach Mike Keenan quickly responded with a smile: "You mean energizer?"

Truth be told, Smith can provide both those traits. He thrives on versatility having played on scoring lines and checking lines and can play all three forward positions.

Smith is well known by Calgary general manager Darryl Sutter and Flames assistant coach Rich Preston -- they helped groom Smith in the San Jose organization where he has been since 1998-99 after being drafted by the Sharks 219th overall in 1997.

The Edmonton native said his first few dealings with Sutter, who was a coach with San Jose as Smith, , began his pro career were a little intimidating.

"But as a young player coming into the league I couldn't have had a better teacher. Nothing comes easy and you have to work for everything. He instilled that in me as a young player. He demands a lot of his players and so he should."

Smith, a former Lethbridge Hurricane who turns 30 later this month, was not re-signed by the Sharks in the off-season. He had a free agent try-out with the New York Rangers but was let go late last week. He returned to San Jose and was pondering what his next move would be when Sutter called.

"It happens in a career. This is my first time but I suspect it won't be the last time. Right now I am looking for a good stint here in Calgary.

"I think it worked out for the best," said Smith. "I'm back home. Back in Canada. I couldn't be happier. I'm glad I found a job here. I was so excited when I knew I was coming here because the energy (in a hockey city) is uplifting."

Smith plays in a band called The Vinyl Trees and has been know to have some funky hairdos throughout the season. Right now there is nothing unusual about his hair, but that could all change according to players who know him. Wayne Primeau who played with Smith in San Jose, for one, doesn't expect the hair to stay the same for very long.

The music has always been in him. "It is something I have had all my life. We have always been a pretty musical family. It would seem empty without it. Music is something I do away from the rink to release the stress," he explained.

His band had a couple of gigs in Newport over the summer and had a chance to play on the same bill as The Tragically Hip. But that's all over now that the NHL season is about to begin. It's now time to make some different music, the energizing kind on the ice.

"I like to thin of myself as being pretty universal and doing the little things right. I like to grind it out," said Smith.
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