Kevin Smith knew early on in his coaching career that he wanted to be a head coach.

He also wanted to return to his roots and coach his alma mater, Edward Little.

New Edward Little varsity boys hockey coach Kevin Smith Submitted photo

“That first year under my belt at Falmouth, I said, ‘I could see myself doing something like this for the long-term,'” Smith said. “When I got the call to go over to EL, that’s where I ultimately wanted to be, since it’s my alma mater.”

Smith, who was one of Norm Gagne’s assistant coaches the past four seasons, will be taking over as Edward Little’s boys hockey head coach. Gagne announced his retirement in February.

Athletic director Todd Sampson said having someone already familiar with the Red Eddies program lead the team is a positive.

“He understands Edward Little hockey, and being on the bench the last few years, he understands our kids extremely well and things they need to improve on,” Sampson said. “Kevin is a professional, and he will have the kids’ best interest in his mind, first and foremost. It was a natural choice for him to be the next hockey coach.”


The seeds for Smith to become a head coach were planted this past winter when Gagne gave him more responsibilities.

“Coach Gagne did a great job with me last year,” Smith said. “That was our plan going in: He was the head coach and he had the final decisions, but he was really preparing me to step up in that role for this (upcoming) season.

“Obviously, I still had to go through the process of interviewing and beating out other candidates, but Coach Gagne had full faith in me.”

Gagne said Smith has a good eye for skill and will take the program to another level.

“He can see things I didn’t see. For instance, in different players, their strengths and weaknesses,” Gagne said. “… I think a lot of his input was great, and I told him that. The good thing about bouncing off of you is to see another perspective of what you see.”

The Red Eddies went 7-10-1 this winter and finished ninth in Class A, one spot short of earning a playoff berth.


Gagne and Smith spoke this week after Smith accepted the job. Gagne told him to start planning for the winter now.

“I told him what he needed to do: ‘Stay abreast of what’s going on, make sure you get ice time for scrimmages, make sure you contact coaches that you want to scrimmage against in the (preseason),'” Gagne said. “Because if you fall back and don’t do it now, you will be behind the 8-ball.”

Smith can be the benefactor of all of Gagne’s coaching plans and strategies because Gagne has offered them to Smith.

“I have a lot of material for him,” Gagne said. “I told him, ‘You aren’t going to use it all, but if you go through it once in a while, it’s all labeled for you. If you want forechecks, you can go to ‘forecheck’ and find out the coaching points and all the things you need to know about those different things.

“… I said I’d got it all, ‘and you will be able to dissect what you like and throw away what you don’t.'”

Gagne said he would be available to Smith to bounce ideas off of him, if needed, going forward.


Smith also credits Falmouth head coach Deron Barton for his development as a coach. Before joining Gagne’s staff, Smith spent the previous three seasons as an assistant at Falmouth.

“Deron taught me a lot, in regards of controlling a locker room, getting the kids disciplined and all on the same page,” Smith said. “That’s the biggest thing I took away from him is his ability to gain the respect from the kids — in a respectful way of course — but he had those kids locked in. That’s a very important aspect of being a head coach is having these kids all on the same page and buying a system we are trying to run.”

Sampson said Smith knows how to interact with high school athletes in tough situations.

“The thing that impressed me about Kevin on multiple occasions is he connects with the kids,” Sampson said. “If it’s a bad period, or maybe the game didn’t go the way we wanted it to, he’s in the hallway by the locker room talking 1-on-1, giving that kid the pep talk, giving that kid what he needs to work on the net day.”


One of Smith’s goals is to keep kids playing high school hockey for as long as possible.


A 2007 graduate of Edward Little High School, Smith said he wishes he played his senior season with the Red Eddies. Instead, he played junior hockey with the Portland Jr. Pirates organization in Saco.

“Don’t get me wrong, I loved my junior days, but I would have had them regardless if I left that senior year or not,” Smith said. “Looking back, I see that now. Unfortunately, these kids feel pressured if they want to go somewhere and play for a team like that. ”

During the 2006-07 season, Smith played for the Pirates Junior B team in the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League, then spent the following two seasons with the Pirates Junior A team in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League. He played three seasons at the University of Southern Maine from 2009-12.

“You only get these four years once,” Smith said. “I want to be a coach these kids want to stay and play for. I want to be that guy that has a close relationship with the families and the parents, to give them the confidence that their kids will get the coaching that they would get anywhere else, if not better.

“I want to home in on their skills and development because, in my opinion, the state of Maine should be like the late ’90s and early 2000s, where the whole town wanted to watch the local teams battle it out. I am going to do everything I can to get hockey back to that structure.”

Smith said he will be involved with the Maine Gladiators youth hockey organization, which is also based at Norway Savings Bank Arena, to promote high school hockey and Edward Little’s program.


Smith will look to his older brother — Kyle Smith — as an example of what the high school experience can bring. Kyle was on the back-to-back 2003 and 2004 Class A state championship Edward Little teams.

“There’s nothing like winning a state championship,” Kevin Smith said. “He still has those rings on (display) because it means a lot. I think that has gotten out of sight for a lot of these families is Maine High School hockey is a proud place to play.”


Smith said the news of him taking over has been positive through the Edward Little community.

“The EL faculty has been incredible,” Kevin Smith said. “There’s a lot of the same teachers that are still there, and when I went to go meet with Todd this week, it was deja vu — they were all giving me hugs and stuff. They are excited.”

Sampson said the players are looking forward to playing for Smith next season.

“We are in the kids business, and the most important thing is our student-athletes,” Sampson said. “There were a lot of high-fives in the hallways the last couple of days when they heard coach Smith was taking the reigns.”

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