The Trail Smoke Eaters are pleased to announce Jeff Tambellini has been hired as the team’s next general manager and head coach.
Tambellini spent 12 seasons playing professional hockey, which included stints with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks and the Swedish Hockey League. The Port Moody, BC native is familiar with the BCHL, having played for the Chilliwack Chiefs for two seasons. During his junior career with the Chiefs, Tambellini earned League MVP and Top Scorer honours, Canadian Junior-A Player of the Year (2002), while also leading Chilliwack to a Fred Page Cup as league champions and a Doyle Cup as Pacific Region Champions.
Tambellini’s success in the BCHL helped him secure a scholarship with the University of Michigan. In 124 career games for the Wolverines, Tambellini racked up 129 points while helping lead the university to two CCHA Championships. After scoring 45 points over 43 games in his freshman year, he received All-Rookie Team, Second All-Star Team and Rookie of the Year honours in the CCHA. In 2004-05, Tambellini notched 57 points over 42 games, earning CCHA First Team Honors, Second Team All-American, CCHA Tournament MVP and was also named to the NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament team.
A first round selection of the Los Angeles Kings in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft (27th overall), Tambellini appeared in 242 NHL games, including a Stanley Cup Finals appearance with the Vancouver Canucks in 2011. After making the decision to retire as a player, Tambellini returned to Michigan as an Assistant Coach for the 2017-2018 season. Last season saw the Wolverines compile a 22-15-3 record en route to a NCAA tournament bid. The success continued as they reached the Frozen Four for the first time in seven years, adding to their national record with a 25th appearance.
Spending a season working with the players at Michigan helped Tambellini determine that he was ready pursue a job as a head coach.
“I am extremely honoured to become a part of the Trail Smoke Eater family today. The city of Trail has played a significant role in my life and has always been good to my family. I’ve been so impressed with the culture change and community support since Rich & Annie Murphy took over the hockey club. I’m excited to continue building the Trail Smoke Eaters into one of the BCHL’s elite franchises.”
The team is very excited to have Jeff join the Trail Smoke Eaters organization. Director of Hockey and Business Operations, Craig Clare was impressed by Tambellini’s professionalism during the hiring process.
“In my discussions with Jeff, I felt that his vision for the players and our program was very much in line with the direction I feel this organization needs to go. Jeff talked about how he will communicate with our players and how important their development on the ice and in the community will be to him. It is clear that Jeff is going to bring passion and excitement to his role as the head coach of our team. I believe that he understands how integral this team is to our community and I am confident that he is the right person to lead what I feel will be one of the best Junior-A programs in the country.”
The Trail Smoke Eaters welcome Jeff to the team and look forward to working with him as we continue to build an elite BCHL program for our players and community.