The PG Cougars have brought experience behind the bench as Jason Smith joins the team in a key role.

The search for an Associate Coach was announced when the Cougars held a news conference naming Mark Lamb as the permanent head coach for the upcoming season.

Less than two weeks later, the Cougars have named Smith as the man taking on the role working alongside Lamb.

Smith brings a wealth of experience to the Northern Capital, most recently as the Head Coach of the Kelowna Rockets for two-plus seasons. He guided the Rockets to back-to-back 40-plus win seasons that included a trip to the WHL’s Western Conference Final in his first year behind the bench in 2016-2017. He was let go early in the 2018-2019 season after the Rockets got off to a slow start.

His coaching time began after his retirement from playing at the end of the 2008-2009 season. The Calgary native spent four seasons in the Ottawa Senators organization from 2012 to 2016 and was the team’s Assistant Coach in his last two seasons before beginning his time in Kelowna.

“I am thrilled that we could bring on Jason, he checks off every box of what we were looking for in an Associate Coach,” said Cougars’ General Manager and Head Coach Mark Lamb. “He’s been a head coach at this level and had a long career in the NHL. That experience is going to be a great asset for our organization.”

The 45-year-old had a decorative playing career at both the junior and professional level. He played three seasons with the Regina Pats. He’d end up winning the Bill Hunter Trophy as the WHL’s Top Defenceman in the 1992-1993 season where he scored 66 points in 64 games with the Pats. He also won a gold medal with Canada’s National Junior Team that year.

During his 15 seasons in the NHL, he ended up playing for the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators. He is a former captain of both the Oilers and Flyers. His five years as captain with the Oilers match the longest-tenure in team history with Wayne Gretzky.

“Mark and I have known each other for quite some time, going back to when I was still playing, and I have a lot of confidence in our relationship. Knowing his work ethic and seeing his commitment to Prince George and the future this team has, it’s an exciting opportunity for myself,” stated Smith.

Smith says he looks forward to connecting with and teaching the Cougars young stable of players, “I had a lot of experience learning from different coaches at the NHL level and that is one thing in coaching I want to bring to the Cougars. Young players today have their own unique way in learning and developing and you have to learn to coach to each individual’s skill set. You have to find what works best for them to grow.”

Smith and Lamb have been together before. Smith played under Lamb when he was an Assistant Coach with the Oilers in the 2001-2002 season.