|5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
175 lb (80 kg)
Los Angeles Kings
New York Islanders
Perth, Ontario, Canada
|NHL Draft||59th overall, 1970|
Los Angeles Kings
|Pro Career||1970 – 1989|
|Hall of Fame, 1993|
William John "Battlin' Billy" Smith (born December 12, 1950, in Perth, Ontario) was a professional 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.
Playing Career[edit | edit source]
NHL Beginnings[edit | edit source]
He 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 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.
Successful Islander Stints[edit | edit source]
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 in 1982, and played in the All Star Game in 1981 and 1982. He won the Vezina Trophy in 1982 and the William M. Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed in 1983 (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.
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 Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, and Jari Kurri. 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. Smith's playoff success feeds into his reputation as the supreme "money" goalie, 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 | edit source]
Smith was also the first NHL goaltender to be credited with scoring a goal. On November 28, 1979, in a game between the Islanders and the Colorado Rockies, the Rockies' goaltender left the ice for an extra skater after a delayed penalty 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 | edit source]
Smith retired in 1989 as 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 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 List of 100 greatest hockey players by The Hockey News.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Nicknamed "Battlin' Billy" for his fiery temper and unabashed use of the stick or blocker on players crowding his crease, Smith was noted for his displays of feigned injuries that would often lead to penalties against opponents, for whom he carried an undisguised emmity, and always refusing 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 (Smith was very passionate about games that put the ranking of their team on the line). A notable incident with Smith occurred in practice where Islanders hall-of-famer Mike Bossy fired a shot at Smith which Smith objected to. Smith charged after Bossy with his stick but was tackled by teammates before Smith took his frustrations out on Bossy.
Career Statistics[edit | edit source]
|1968–69||Smiths Falls Bears||CJHL||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|1971–72||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||5||1||3||1||300||23||0||4.60||.884|
|1972–73||New York Islanders||NHL||37||7||24||3||2122||147||3||4.16||.915|
|1973–74||New York Islanders||NHL||46||9||23||12||2615||134||3||3.07||.902|
|1974–75||New York Islanders||NHL||58||21||18||17||3368||156||3||2.78||.911|
|1975–76||New York Islanders||NHL||39||19||10||9||2254||98||3||2.61||.909|
|1976–77||New York Islanders||NHL||36||21||8||6||2089||87||2||2.50||--|
|1977–78||New York Islanders||NHL||38||20||8||8||2154||85||2||2.65||--|
|1978–79||New York Islanders||NHL||40||25||8||4||2261||108||1||2.87||--|
|1979–80||New York Islanders||NHL||38||15||14||7||2114||104||2||2.95||--|
|1980–81||New York Islanders||NHL||41||22||10||8||2363||129||2||3.28||--|
|1981–82||New York Islanders||NHL||46||32||9||4||2685||133||0||2.97||.900|
|1982–83||New York Islanders||NHL||41||18||14||7||2340||112||1||2.87||.906|
|1983–84||New York Islanders||NHL||42||23||13||2||2279||130||2||3.42||.896|
|1984–85||New York Islanders||NHL||37||18||14||3||2090||133||0||3.82||.879|
|1985–86||New York Islanders||NHL||41||20||14||4||2308||143||1||3.72||.881|
|1986–87||New York Islanders||NHL||40||14||18||5||2252||132||1||3.52||.869|
|1987–88||New York Islanders||NHL||38||17||14||5||2107||113||2||.893|
|1988–89||New York Islanders||NHL||17||3||11||0||730||54||0||3.22||.851|
Gallery[edit | edit source]
External Links[edit | edit source]
|Winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy
Rick Wamsley and Denis Herron
|Winner of the William M. Jennings Trophy
(with Roland Melanson)
Al Jensen and Pat Riggin
Michel Larocque, and Richard Sevigny
|Winner of the Vezina Trophy
|This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Billy Smith. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).|