Billy Smith is a former NHL goaltender who played for the New York Islanders and, although briefly, the Los Angeles Kings in the 70s and 80s. Smith was born in and raised in Perth, Ontario. He played junior hockey in Smith Falls, and was promoted to the QMJHL's Cornwall Royals during the 1969-70 season. That offseason, Smith was drafted 59th overall by the Kings.

Smith languished in the Kings' farm system, playing two unimpressive seasons for the AHL's Springfield Kings, and logging only five NHL games. The Kings, having acquired star goalie Rogie Vachon, left Smith unprotected for the 1972 expansion draft, and he was claimed by the New York Islanders.

After getting to a rocky start, the Islanders began to build a strong team in the mid 1970s, adding Smith's goaltending partner Chico Resch and eventual Hall of Famers Denis Potvin and Bryan Trottier. Smith quickly earned a reputation as the toughest goaltender ever to play the game. He set a record for most penalty minutes in his rookie season, mostly by, in the words of the Legends of Hockey Web site, "using his stick like a scythe to rid his crease of encroaching forwards."

Smith was at the heart of the emerging Islanders dynasty. He backstopped the Islanders to five straight Stanley Cup finals appearances, including four consecutive victories. Smith set a record for the most playoff victories by a goalie with 88, a record only recently eclipsed by Grant Fuhr.

What Billy Smith will best be remembered for may not be his Stanley Cup rings or his ill-temper, it may be the fact that he is the first NHL goaltender to score a goal. In a 1979 game against the Colorado Rockies (coached by Don Cherry), Colorado pulled its goalie after a delayed penalty was called against the Islanders. The Rockies' Rob Ramage made an errant pass which wound up in his own net. The last Islander to touch the puck was Smith (after making a save), and he was credited with the goal.

Billy Smith's career statistical line reads as follows: 680 games played, 305W-233L-105T, with 22 shutouts and a 3.17 goals against average. His playoff stats are: 132 games played, 88W-36L with 5 shutouts and a 2.73 goals against average.

Smith won the Conn Smythe Trophy (awarded to the playoff MVP) in 1983, the Vezina Trophy (best goaltender) in 1982 and the William M. Jennings Trophy (with Roland Melanson, the goaltender/goaltenders with the fewest goals allowed in the regular season). He was elected a First Team All-Star in 1982. Smith was inducted into The Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.


Sources:
The Goaltender Homepage - http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~norrisdt/bio/smithb.html
Hockey Draft Central - http://hockeydraftcentral.com/1970/70059.html
The Internet Hockey Database - http://www.hockeydb.com
Legends of Hockey - http://www.legendsofhockey.net

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