Billy Smith (ice hockey)

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Billy Smith
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1993
Billy Smith.jpg
Smith at the 2008 Legends Classic game
Born (1950-12-12) December 12, 1950 (age 67)
Perth, ON, CAN
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 175 lb (79 kg; 12 st 7 lb)
Position Goaltender
Caught Left
Played for AHL
 Springfield Kings
NHL
 Los Angeles Kings
 New York Islanders
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 59th overall, 1970
Los Angeles Kings
Playing career 1970–1989

William John Smith, better known as Billy Smith, (born December 12, 1950) is a retired professional ice hockey goaltender and is best known for winning four Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders and being the first goalie to be credited with a goal. On January 27, 2017, in a ceremony during the All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, Smith was part of the second group of players to be named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.[1]

Playing career[edit]

NHL beginnings[edit]

Smith was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 5th round of the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft from the Cornwall Royals of the QMJHL. He played two seasons with the Kings' minor league affiliate, the American Hockey League's Springfield Kings, and spent a brief stint with the big-league Kings after winning a Calder Cup for Springfield in 1971.

He made his NHL debut with the Los Angeles Kings on February 12, 1972, at the Montreal Forum. L.A. lost the game 6-5. Smith faced 48 shots that afternoon, yielding the winning goal to Guy Lafleur with 22 seconds remaining in the game. He was drafted in the 1972 NHL Expansion Draft by the New York Islanders; he was the second player picked by the team.

After sharing goaltending duties with Gerry Desjardins for two years, he got the starting job all to himself in 1974–75 when Desjardins bolted to the World Hockey Association. That season, he led the Islanders to their first playoff appearance.

New York Islanders[edit]

Smith played in the 1978 All-Star Game, where he was named MVP. For the rest of the decade, he shared time in the Islanders net with Glenn Resch, where they combined to form perhaps the top goaltending duo in the NHL at the time. This changed in the 1980 playoffs, when the Isles rode Smith's goaltending to their first of four consecutive Stanley Cups, firmly establishing Smith as the team's starting goaltender. Resch was dealt to the Colorado Rockies the following season. Smith went on to become a First Team All-Star and Vezina Trophy winner in 1982. In 1983, he won the William M. Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed (shared with Roland Melanson). He was chosen to play for Canada in the 1981 Canada Cup, but was unable to play due to an injury sustained in a pre-tournament game.

Smith's regular season success, however, was surpassed by his performances in the playoffs, as he helped the Islanders win four straight Stanley Cups (1980–83), reach the finals five straight times (1980–84), and win a record 19 consecutive playoff series from 1980–84.

Smith was the first goalie to win the Stanley Cup wearing the helmet-and-cage combination mask, rather than the fiberglass mask which had been the standard from 1959, when it was introduced by Jacques Plante, until the early 1980s. Smith wore a fiberglass mask early in his career, but switched to the helmet-and-cage in 1978.

His single most famous game may be his 2–0 victory in the first game of the 1983 Stanley Cup finals against the Edmonton Oilers, shutting out the likes of Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, and Paul Coffey. The Islanders went on to sweep the Oilers in 4 games, with Smith allowing the Oilers only 6 goals and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player in the Playoffs. A year later, Smith broke the record for the most Playoff victories: he led all goaltenders in playoff victories in total and in every individual year between 1980 and 1984. Then in 1985, Smith led the Islanders to win 3 straight games after being down 0–2 to the Washington Capitals, the first time such a comeback occurred in the NHL.[2] Smith's playoff success feeds into his reputation as the supreme "money" goalie (or "clutch" goaltender) of his era, the person you would want in net with the season on the line. Teammates and observers have said that Smith seemed able to sense when he needed to be perfect to win and when he could give up five goals and still come away with the victory.

First NHL goal by a goaltender[edit]

Smith was also the first NHL goaltender to be credited with scoring a goal.[3] On November 28, 1979, in a game between the Islanders and the Colorado Rockies, the Rockies' goaltender left the ice for an extra attacker after a delayed penalty call was called on the Islanders. The puck deflected off the chest protector of the Islanders' Smith into the corner. Colorado rookie Rob Ramage picked up the puck and accidentally made a blind pass from the corner boards in the opposing zone to the blue line. Nobody was there to receive the pass, and so the puck sailed all the way down the length of the ice and into the Colorado net. Smith had been the last Islander to touch the puck, and was credited with a goal.

Retirement[edit]

Smith retired in 1989; he was the last original Islander still on the team. After four years as the Islanders' goaltending coach, he followed longtime Islander general manager Bill Torrey to the expansion Florida Panthers in the same role, serving there until his retirement in 2000. He had spent 30 years at ice level in the NHL, the last 27 of them alongside Torrey with the Islanders (1973-1992) and the Panthers (1992-2000).

The Islanders retired his #31 on February 20, 1993. Later that year, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, the only goalie inducted in the Hall in the 1990s. In 1998, he was ranked number 80 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

Personality[edit]

He was nicknamed "Battlin' Billy" or "Hatchet Man" for his fiery temper and unabashed use of the stick or blocker on players crowding his crease; as such, forwards needed ankle guards to protect themselves.

Smith was also noted for his displays of feigned injuries that would often lead to penalties against opponents, for whom he carried an undisguised enmity. For instance, in Game Four of the 1983 Stanley Cup Finals, Smith's dive resulted in referee Andy Van Hellemond handing a five-minute penalty to Glenn Anderson of the Edmonton Oilers. Van Hellemond said that this was "making a bit of a fool of me", and when he officiated Game One of the 1984 Finals, a rematch of the Islanders and Oilers, he called no penalty when Smith and Anderson collided.[4]

Smith refused to participate in the traditional handshakes between teams at the end of a playoff series, as to not feel any worse after a loss than he already did, being very passionate about games that put the ranking of their team on the line.

A notable incident with Smith occurred in practice where then-teammate Mike Bossy fired a shot at Smith to which Smith objected. Smith charged after Bossy with his stick but was tackled by teammates before Smith took his frustrations out on Bossy. Bossy also noted that Smith never liked being talked to in the locker room, and keeping an intense focus before and after games and practices, but is much more laid-back off the ice.[5]

Billy Smith with the New York Islanders

Awards and achievements[edit]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA SV% GP W L MIN GA SO GAA SV%
1968–69 Smiths Falls Bears CCHL
1968–69 Hull Castors M-Cup 3 130 16 0 7.38
1969–70 Cornwall Royals QMJHL 55 2946 249 1 4.52 .887 6 360 14 1 2.33 .935
1970–71 Springfield Kings AHL 49 19 20 6 2728 160 2 3.51 11 9 1 682 29 1 2.56
1971–72 Springfield Kings AHL 28 24 3 1 1649 77 4 2.80 .882 4 1 2 192 13 0 4.06
1971–72 Los Angeles Kings NHL 5 1 3 1 300 23 0 4.60 .871
1972–73 New York Islanders NHL 37 7 24 3 2122 147 3 4.16 .878
1973–74 New York Islanders NHL 46 9 23 12 2615 134 3 3.07 .897
1974–75 New York Islanders NHL 58 21 18 17 3368 156 3 2.78 .904 6 1 4 333 23 0 4.14 .883
1975–76 New York Islanders NHL 39 19 10 9 2254 98 3 2.61 .908 8 4 3 437 21 0 2.88 .892
1976–77 New York Islanders NHL 36 21 8 6 2089 87 2 2.50 .916 10 7 3 580 27 0 2.79 .912
1977–78 New York Islanders NHL 38 20 8 8 2154 85 2 2.65 .909 1 0 0 47 1 0 1.28 .929
1978–79 New York Islanders NHL 40 25 8 4 2261 108 1 2.87 .899 5 4 1 315 10 1 1.90 .932
1979–80 New York Islanders NHL 38 15 14 7 2114 104 2 2.95 .898 20 15 4 1198 56 1 2.80 .902
1980–81 New York Islanders NHL 41 22 10 8 2363 129 2 3.28 .895 17 14 3 994 42 0 2.54 .904
1981–82 New York Islanders NHL 46 32 9 4 2685 133 0 2.97 .900 18 15 3 1120 47 1 2.52 .906
1982–83 New York Islanders NHL 41 18 14 7 2340 112 1 2.87 .906 17 13 3 962 43 3 2.68 .912
1983–84 New York Islanders NHL 42 23 13 2 2279 130 2 3.42 .896 21 12 8 1190 54 0 2.72 .905
1984–85 New York Islanders NHL 37 18 14 3 2090 133 0 3.82 .879 6 3 3 342 19 0 3.33 .896
1985–86 New York Islanders NHL 41 20 14 4 2308 143 1 3.72 .881 1 0 1 60 4 0 4.00 .882
1986–87 New York Islanders NHL 40 14 18 5 2252 132 1 3.52 .869 2 0 0 67 1 0 0.90 .955
1987–88 New York Islanders NHL 38 17 14 5 2107 113 2 3.22 .893
1988–89 New York Islanders NHL 17 3 11 0 730 54 0 3.22 .851
NHL totals 680 305 233 105 38,431 2031 22 3.17 .894 132 88 36 7645 348 6 2.73 .905

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "100 Greatest NHL Players". NHL.com. January 27, 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  2. ^ Wolff, Craig (17 April 1985). "ISLANDERS TOP CAPITALS TO COMPLETE COMEBACK". New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  3. ^ Vecsey, George (23 March 1981). "FOR ISLANDERS' BILLY SMITH, THR (sic) GAME IS A JOB, THE GOAL IS HIS TURF". New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b NHL (2017-03-22), Billy Smith was goalie on Islanders 1980s dynasty, retrieved 2017-04-24 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Mike Bossy
Winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy
1983
Succeeded by
Mark Messier
Preceded by
Rick Wamsley and Denis Herron
Winner of the William M. Jennings Trophy
(with Roland Melanson)

1983
Succeeded by
Al Jensen and Pat Riggin
Preceded by
Denis Herron,
Michel Larocque, and Richard Sevigny
Winner of the Vezina Trophy
1982
Succeeded by
Pete Peeters