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Toneff leaves Smokies for Buccaneers

Photo by Randy Emery

Assistant Coach Curtis Toneff has left the Trail Smoke Eaters to accept a position as the Head Coach and General Manager of the Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL). Though we are sad to see a young coach of Curt’s calibre leave our organization, we are excited for him as he takes the next step in his coaching career.

Curt joined the team after a successful run as the Assistant Coach of the Campbell River Storm in the VIJHL, where the team captured a Cyclone Taylor Championship. When an opening for an assistant coach with the Smoke Eaters came up early in the 2015-2016 season, Curt jumped at the opportunity to join an organization that he had spent time with as a player.

In his two seasons behind the bench in Trail, Curt has had to fill several roles, and at the end of 2015-2016, stepped in as the interim Head Coach for the team during the few weeks of the season. At the end of last season, the team was in the difficult position of not having a full-time Head Coach in place heading in to the off season and without Curtis, the team would not have had the ability to take time to look for the right coach to take over the role of head coach for the team. The hard work that Curt put in during last off season helped to pave the way for the success that the Smoke Eaters had during this last campaign.

It does not come as a surprise to the team’s front office that Curt would be given the reigns of his own hockey club. Director of Hockey and Business Operations, Craig Clare, has seen Curt grow from a player to coach, adding “Curt’s leadership and work ethic paved the way to this Head Coach and GM opportunity.  Curt came to Trail and was a big part of changing and improving the Trail Smoke Eaters program.  I have no doubt he will have a successful coaching career, and I am proud that it started with the Trail Smoke Eaters.”

In discussing his time in Trail, Curt had the following to say. “I would like to thank the Trail Smoke Eaters organization for the opportunity they gave me these last two years. Tom Gawryletz, Craig Clare and Barry Zanier for everything they helped me with, and Cam Keith for taking an unknown Assistant Coach to him and showing me how the pros do it. Thank you of course to the players who were all such class acts and a pleasure to work with this year! The Smokies have an exciting future to look forward to. Rich and Annie and the hockey operations staff are doing such great things. Trail is a true hockey town with genuine hard working people. Good luck!”

Though the team would love to have seen Curt return next season, we are excited for him and know he will excel in his new role with the Buccaneers. Best of luck, Curt, and thank you for everything you have done for the Trail Smoke Eaters.