Charles "Lefty" Smith, the first varsity head hockey coach at Notre Dame has passed away of natural causes at the age of 81.
Smith coached the Irish for 19 years, and was the longest tenured employee in the Notre Dame athletic department until his retirement last week from managing Notre Dame's Loftus Center. The ice at the new Compton Family Ice Arena is named the "Lefty Smith Rink," and Smith dropped the ceremonial first puck at the new arena earlier this fall. Prior to Notre Dame, Smith was the head coach for the very successful South St. Paul High School program. He was considered the Godfather of Notre Dame hockey, and with the Irish now a consistent national power, playing in a beautiful cathedral of an arena, and now playing games on national cable television, he leaves the program in a place he could never have possibly dreamed of when he first helped start the program.
With the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in Minnesota this weekend to play the Gophers, there was supposed to be a dinner honoring Smith on Friday, attended by the head coaches of both teams, as well as Doug Woog, who played for Smith at South St. Paul, among other hockey luminaries. I haven't heard if the event will still place, but it will certainly take on a more somber mood if it does, but should also be a great way to say goodbye to one of the more legendary figures in all of college hockey.