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New York Islanders

The Legend of Islanders Billy Smith, Fans Describe Him in 1 Word



New York Islanders, Billy Smith

ELMONT, NY — On Friday night, during the New York Islanders game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, franchise legend Billy Smith was honored.

The now 72-year-old was instrumental in the Islanders dynasty, backstopping them to their four straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983.

In those four championship postseasons, Smith won 59 of the 72 games he played, with a .906 SV% and a 2.61 GAA with three shutouts. He owned an accumulative 10.875 Goals Saved Above Average, as he was clutch when it mattered most.

What was more impressive about Smith is that during the regular season, he was never the clear-cut starter. But when playoffs rolled around, head coach Al Arbour ran with him over Chico Resch.

Clearly that decision worked out.

Smith was the first NHL netminder to win a Stanley Cup wearing a helmet-cage combination goalie mask, as the fiberglass mask was the norm.

Drafted 59th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 1970, the Ontario native was scooped up by the Islanders in the 1972 Expansion Draft.

He went on to play 17 years with the Islanders.

Out of 41 players drafted, Smith was the only one to win a Stanley Cup with the organization, winning four.

When Smith hung up the skates following the 1988-89 season, he had played 674 games for New York, with 304 wins, a career .895 SV%, with a 3.16 GAA, and a goal.

Smith was the first netminder to be credited with a goal, as the Rockies put it in their net on a delayed penalty after Smith made the save in a game against the Colorado Rockies back on Nov. 28, 1979.

On Feb. 20, 1993, the Islanders sent Smith’s no. 31 to the rafters, and later that year, he inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Islanders current head coach Lane Lambert got to play against Billy Smith and remembered scoring on him but also being slashed by him.

Smith was one of those goaltenders that you loved to have on your team, but if he was in the opposing crease, it was going to be a tough night, not just mentally but physically.

His crease was his baby, and he wasn’t allowing anyone to touch his kid.

For the Islanders fans that never got to see Billy Smith play, I asked for you guys to share one word to describe him in goal.

The most common word was ‘clutch’, followed by ‘intense’ and the most important one, ‘champion’.

Here’s more of your answers:

Billy Smith may very well have been the most clutch goaltender of all time.

This story will be updated after the New York Islanders post their tribute video: