Pirates have been rocked by the shock revelation that player/coach Randy Smith will not be returning to the club.

Smith announced his decision to retire from ice hockey and relinquish his post with the city club after last night s 4-2 defeat by Basingstoke brought the season to an end. The 34-year old Canadian is to return to his homeland for family reasons.

"My eldest daughter is now six and already she has lived in four different countries in eight different cities. I know that you can t play forever, and although I think I could play for another two or three years I can t keep uprooting my family," said Smith who won an Olympic silver medal with Canada in 1988.

"I love playing ice hockey but I love my family more, the decision was made because it was what was best for my family.

"The decision has nothing to do with the recent problems Pirates have had, if anything it made the decision tougher as I did not want to walk away from Doug McEwen and Paul Brewster. Both are trying to do all that they can for the club."

Smith first to moved to Britain in 1994, picking up the British League s player of the year award in an outstanding first season with the Pirates. From there Smith moved on to Cardiff and then Newcastle before returning to Peterborough two years ago, and was again voted the league s top player as Pirates lifted the Christmas Cup.

Following Troy Walkington's resignation in October, Smith was made player/coach and led the team to the top of the British National League before financial problems ripped the heart out of the team. While others decided to jump ship Smith stayed on and steered Pirates to an improbable place in the play-off semi-finals.