Mike Smith was “kind of offended” when it was first recommended that he see a sports psychologist, but that’s not where he stands anymore.
After a terrible start last season while he was in a “bad place mentally,” he started consulting a sports psychologist after the All-Star break and went from recording a 3.51 GAA and .887 save percentage before the break to a 2.81 GAA and .920 save percentage afterwards.
“Whether it’s a good experience or you’re coming out of the game not feeling too good about yourself, I think it’s important to have someone that’s not involved in the team and doesn’t have anything to do with hockey or our team that you can throw ideas off of,” Smith told the Arizona Republic. “That’s very important.”
He plans to continue to speak regularly with the psychologist throughout the 2015-16 campaign. If it helps, then Smith could end up being the Coyotes’ silver lining this season. He was the key factor in them reaching the Western Conference Final in 2012 and his decline is part of the reason why Arizona hasn’t made the playoff since.
This is likely to be a rebuilding season for the Coyotes regardless, but with Smith signed through 2018-19 at an annual cap hit of roughly $5.7 million, they need him to be part of the long-term solution.