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Smyth brings veteran leadership to Monarchs

Brad Smyth is no stranger to the Los Angeles Kings organization, having suited up for the Kings in both the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons. The well-traveled veteran has returned for 2004-05 with a new two-year contract. He will play in Manchester, N.H., fittingly nicknamed the Queen City, for the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ AHL affiliate.

Smyth, 31, is very comfortable in the AHL. He was honored with the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s Most Valuable Player and the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the AHL’s top scorer with 68 goals and 126 points in 68 games during the 1995-96 season. His one-goal-per-game average that season remains the highest of any AHL 50-goal scorer in history.

Smyth has also been a member of the AHL First All-Star Team three times during his career (1996, 2001 and 2002), and he hopes to add 2004-05 to that list.

Smyth is slated to play his 500th AHL game this season, but that’s something he’s not overly concerned about.

“This is my 12th year playing professional hockey,” he said. “Games accumulate, but I am not really thinking about it. I enjoy playing a lot in a season – it drives me. I am more concerned with getting a chance at another Calder Cup ring.”

Smyth’s first Calder Cup championship was in 1999-2000 with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Last season, Smyth found himself playing in Finland for Karpat Oulu of the Finnish elite league, where he registered 38 points (20-18=38) and 85 penalty minutes in 48 games. His contribution helped Karpat win the league championship.

“The experience I had playing in Finland was very positive, and winning the championship made it even better. It gave me a different view on the sport. They train very differently. It was also interesting to see how amazingly popular hockey is over there for such a small country,” Smyth said.

It is no mystery why Smyth carries the nickname “Shooter.” He entered this season with 525 career AHL points in 469 games, and has earned himself the reputation as being one of the best finishers in the league. Count on Shooter to live up to that nickname this season in Manchester.

Being one of the most experienced players on the current Monarchs roster, one can assume that Smyth will find himself taking on a leadership role in the locker room.

“I try to give advice when it is asked of me, but the best way to lead is by example, and that is what I hope to do,” Smyth said.

When Smyth’s stellar playing career comes to a conclusion someday, his aspiration is to become a professional sports broadcaster.

“I would really love to be a color commentator; in professional hockey or wherever the opportunity arises. I have some experience and I really enjoy it,” Smyth said.