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Blackhawks celebrate executive Barry Smith’s final practice as coach

After this morning’s practice, the Blackhawks circled around assistant Barry Smith and tapped their sticks on the ice to thank him. Smith addressed the team and shook hands with all the players as he nears the end of his time on the coaching staff.

The Hawks asked Smith to leave his front office job in November when Jeremy Colliton took over as head coach, and he will return to his position as Director of Player Evaluation after Tuesday’s home game against the Islanders.

Smith has been in the Hawks’ front office for nine years and was part of five other championship teams in Pittsburgh and Detroit. He was an invaluable help to Colliton, who came in as the youngest coach in the NHL at 33.

“Certainly his experience and just his presence,” Colliton said when asked what Smith gave him. “Great guy, very, very fun to be around.

Barry Smith (left) has been a big help to Jeremy Colliton in his first NHL coaching job. | David Banks/AP

“We were a little bit shorthanded, and he left his wife and his previous life, lived in a hotel for two and a half months and was a great resource for me and the staff. Really appreciate that. He’s been through the wars already, so for him to come back into it was very selfless.”

The Hawks cleared out Joel Quenneville and assistants Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson and rebuilt the staff around Colliton. They retained Don Granato and goaltending coach Jimmy Waite.

Colliton recently hired former Hawks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, who had been working with the Rockford affiliate, as an assistant.