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Smith will lace up at Kamloops Blazers' training camp

By MARTY HASTINGS
August 20, 2013 · 3:35 PM
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Colin Smith of the Colorado Avalanche will attend Kamloops Blazers' training camp, which gets underway on Thursday, Aug. 22. / KTW file photo

Kamloops Blazers' fans will have at least one more chance to watch Colin Smith in action at Interior Savings Centre.

The Colorado Avalanche forward will attend the Blue and Orange's training camp, which gets underway on Thursday, Aug. 22.

Smith was not obligated to come to Kamloops, but decided it was in his best interest to pick up the intensity level before heading to the Centennial State for the NHL squad's rookie camp, which begins on Sunday, Sept. 8.

"I feel it's more important at this point to get on the ice, especially in a competitive environment, rather than just skating with other guys, where it's not as competitive," Smith told KTW.

"It would have just been me staying here [Edmonton] for a week and training. I'm still going down a week early to Colorado."

Blazers' rookie camp runs on Friday, Aug. 23, and Saturday, Aug. 24, at ISC from 9 a.m. to 9:15 p.m.

Smith, who will participate with the rest of the team in fitness testing on Thursday at Valleyview secondary, will take the ice from 3:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, when the main-camp players give the rookies a break from action.

Main camp runs from Sunday, Aug. 25, to Wednesday, Aug. 28. Go online to blazerhockey.com for the complete schedule.

Smith will compete in the WHL club's annual Blue vs. White intrasquad game, which hits the ice at ISC at 7 p.m. on Wednesday (Aug. 28).

Tickets are $5.

"Kamloops is where I've got myself ready the last five years," Smith said. "I felt that it wouldn't make much sense trying to change things up just because I'm trying to turn pro.

"They wanted me to come back and, at the same time, technically, there is a possibility [of playing this season in Kamloops], so I just felt it was the right decision to come back."

Smith will leave the River City on Friday, Aug. 30, the same day Kamloops is slated to play its first exhibition game against the Rockets in Kelowna.

The Blazers are hosting the Vancouver Giants in exhibition play at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1, at ISC.

Smith, who signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Avalanche on July 5, will play next season with either the Avs, the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League or the Blazers — although a return to the WHL is unlikely.

"I'm just going to go to camp [in Colorado] and do everything I can to stay as long as I can and, then, realistically, if I get sent down [to Cleveland, home of Lake Erie], I'll try and be an impact player and stay there."

According to capgeek.com, Smith's salary in the first year of the deal is $60,000 when playing in the AHL and $620,000 if playing with the Avalanche. He will be paid to scale for time spent in either league.

Smith is due to receive three $70,000 signing bonuses, one for each year of the contract, according to the website.

The Blazers' first-round pick in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft has already received the first half of his Year 1 signing bonus.

He said it was surreal to receive his first cheque.

"It was actually really weird, but it was nice," Smith said.

"It's nice to have, but it's still not a crazy amount of money that you can be blowing, so it's important to be smart with it."

When he reunites with his old Blazer teammates this week, it's likely safe to say the first round of coffees will be a treat from No. 9.