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Harvey Smyl steps away from Chilliwack Chiefs after 21 years

After 21 years behind the bench, Chilliwack Chiefs coach Harvey Smyl announced Wednesday he will not return for the 2014-2015 season. - Paul J. Henderson
After 21 years behind the bench, Chilliwack Chiefs coach Harvey Smyl announced Wednesday he will not return for the 2014-2015 season.
— image credit: Paul J. Henderson

After 21 seasons as head coach and general manager of the Chilliwack Chiefs, Harvey Smyl is leaving the team.

“This is a very big and tough decision that has been made only after long consideration and full consultation with my family—wife Erin, daughters Hailey and Jamie and son Cam,” Smyl said, in a press release issued late Wednesday. “Our youngest child graduates high school in June so it is a good time for us to re-evaluate our future.”

Smyl's contract expires at the end of May, and the Times was told by a source last week that the long-time coach would not be back for 2014-2015.

Chiefs president Glen Ringdal last week said the team had not yet met to discuss Smyl's future. Ringdal said at that time he expected Smyl to return.

This week, Ringdal said the Chiefs family greets the news of Smyl's departure with real sadness as an era comes to an end.

"At the same time, we fully understand that, after 21 years, Harvey must look after Harvey and his family," he said in a press release. "And if that means making a significant change in his life, so be it. He has devoted all his time and energy to this club for a very long time and is very highly respected in all hockey circles in B.C., Canada and beyond. We will miss him dearly. ”

The loss of Smyl as a general manager, a job in which he recruits new players to the team, will arguably be harder on the team than the loss of Smyl as a coach.

Ringdal said the club will immediately begin a search for a new head coach and general manager.

This season was the first in his career that Smyl's team did not make the playoffs. In leading his teams to the playoffs in 20 of his 21 seasons in the BCHL, Smyl was named the BCHL Coach of the Year four times.

He coached the Chiefs to three BCHL Championships, 1994-1995, 1999-2000 and 2001-2002. Twice those teams advanced to the Royal Bank Cup which included a bronze medal in 2000.

He took the helm while the team was still playing in “the old barn” on Corbould Street, brought it into the new Prospera Centre in 2004, followed it to Langley for five years from 2006-2011, and brought it back to Chilliwack in 2011-12.

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