Over the past two seasons, injuries have limited Ladislav Smid to a combined 53 games with the Calgary Flames, but he was still able to participate in the team’s season. That won’t be the case in 2016-17, however, as a neck injury will put Smid on the shelf for the entirety of the campaign.
It was announced Thursday that Smid, 30, will miss the entire campaign due to a neck injury, though the Flames, nor Smid, are surprised that he’ll be sitting out the season. Beginning in January 2015, Smid found himself out of the lineup long-term with an upper-body injury, and by the start of the 2015-16 campaign, Smid hit the injured list with a neck ailment. His season also ended on account of another upper-body injury — neck related, and there was the threat of surgery — so it’s not as if this is a recent development.
“I want to help the team. But it is what it is. It’s your health,” Smid said, according to the Calgary Sun’s Kristen Odland. “It’s not like I'm retiring. But for this year, I’m going to have to sit out. It’s obviously hard. But it’s not a decision we made overnight. We talked the whole summer. It wasn’t just me deciding it, it was doctors. I heard so many different opinions so we kind of made the decision together.”
Smid has been participating in on-ice activities with the Flames and staying in shape, a process which Calgary GM Brad Treliving called “mental medicine” for the veteran defenseman, but playing, and taking contact, is simply too risky for Smid at this point. That doesn’t mean he’s retiring, though, as he said he simply wants to take this season to recuperate and try again later.
“If I’m going to get caught in a bad position, like last year, something bad can really happen,” Smid said, according to Odland. “I really want to give it the year and we’ll see where I stand next year.”
Smid still has one season left on his four-year, $14-million contract with the Flames, an average annual salary of $3.5 million, and he’ll be played on the LTIR for the campaign. However, that doesn’t mean he’ll be returning to his native Czech Republic and taking the year to recover. The Flames plan to incorporate Smid into their operations and give him the chance to be around the team.
“We’re going to look at (Smid) doing some projects for us in the front office and maybe having some scouting assignments for him and integrating him,” Treliving said, according to Odland. “He won’t be participating on the ice.”
Smid said he’s grateful for the chance to stay around the game during what will surely be a difficult season.
“I’m very happy (Treliving’s) helping me out and trying to utilize me in different roles,” Smid said, according to Odland. “We’ll see what’s that going to be. Whether it’s visiting players we’re scouting, I don’t know. I’m going to try a bunch of different stuff and getting back to what I like the best.”
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.