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How Former Islanders GM Neil Smith Made His Way Back to Long Island

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New York Islanders, Neil Smith

As the New York Islanders struggles continued Thursday night in their 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild, former general manager Neil Smith was in attendance.

“He was sitting alone in a suite, taking notes and watching the Islanders game,” a source told NYI Hockey Now.

The source continued to say that Neil Smith wasn’t undercover by any means, wearing a full suit with a UBS arena credential hanging around his neck. He even took pictures with some of the fans, but to protect privacy, those pictures will stay in the vault.

NYI Hockey Now reached out to the New York Islanders to learn if he had taken on a role with the organization.

It turns out Smith has been working for UBS Financial Services since 2018 and, in 2021, became the liaison between UBS and UBS Arena.

Per UBS: As a member of the team, Neil draws on his deep background as a Hockey Professional to help Financial Advisors understand and address the needs of this special group succeed off the ice. 

Smith, you may remember, served as general manager of the New York Rangers from 1989 to 2000, and was responsible for building the Ranger Stanley Cup team of 1994. His most significant move was trading for Edmonton Oilers superstar Mark Messier and Adam Graves.

Smith was also responsible for drafting Alexei Kovalev, former Islanders head coach Doug Weight, and Sergei Zubov, to name a few.

The Rangers won the President’s Trophy twice in his tenure and captured the organization’s fourth Stanley Cup.

But before Smith was making moves with the Rangers, he was a New York Islander.

Drafted out of Western Michigan University in 1974, Smith spent a few seasons in the minors before being hired as a scout for the organization.

He worked under the tutelage of the late Al Arbour and Bill Torrey but left the organization in the summer of 1982.

Islanders chief scout and assistant general manager Jim Devellano was hired that summer to be the general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, and Devellano brought Smith with him.

In 2006, Smith was back with the Islanders organization following the firing of Mike Milbury. But his tenure as general manager lasted 40 days before being fired, with Garth Snow taking his job.

In his 40 days, Smith hired Ted Nolan as the head coach, and acquired Brendan Witt, Tom Poti, Mike Sillinger, and Chris Simon.

Smith had a falling out with Islanders owner, the late Charles Wang, as he wanted complete control of decisions while Wang wanted decisions to be made as a group. That led to Smith’s departure as he went on to work as an assistant to Dallas Stars general manager Dough Armstrong before getting involved in broadcasting.

The Islanders were back in the playoffs after a year’s absence as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference before being eliminated by the Buffalo Sabres, 4-1.

After his stint with Dallas, Smith worked in broadcasting before taking this new job with UBS.

While he is no longer working in a hockey management role or he remains connected to the sport with his current job.

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