Doug Smith

Doug Smith was a highly thought of junior player. So highly thought of that the Los Angeles Kings selected Smith 2nd overall in the 1981 Entry Draft. Drafted ahead of American whiz kid Bob Carpenter and future superstar Ron Francis, Smith, who played for the Ottawa 67's, had the unenviable task of being picked 2nd to perhaps the greatest 1st overall pick ever - Dale Hawerchuk.

While Hawerchuk went on to achieve superstar status and Carpenter and Francis enjoyed fine careers as well, Smith struggled and was never able to establish himself as a top offensive player. Although he became a good role player and defensive specialist by the end of his career, he was never able to shake the lofty expectations placed on him.

Part of the problem was Doug wasn't mature enough to handle the pressure at such a young age.

"I look back when I was drafted, at the time I was so young having just turned 18 in May of 1981, my draft year," recalled Smith. "I was cocky and outspoken I had gone from being the best player in junior to just another player in the NHL. Maybe I didn't show the proper respect. I realize now that then I didn't know what the NHL was all about. The NHL is a tight family and it's like you are adopted. I got frustrated and lost confidence. I suffered from it for a long time."

"I look back now at age 34 after 600 career games and a career ending injury and appreciate, and consider it was an honor to play in the NHL."

Smith played in four and a half seasons with the Kings beginning with the 1981-82 campaign. His
rookie year at age 18 saw him appear in 80 games picking up 16 goals ands 30 points. His best season as a King was 84-85 when he totaled 41 points including 21 goals (career highs). Played a total of 304 games as a King scoring 72 goals, 74 assists for 146 points.

Smith was traded to Buffalo, January 30, 1996, with Brian Engblom for Larry Playfair, Sean McKenna and Ken Baumgartner. He played 3 seasons in Buffalo before moving on to stints in Edmonton, Vancouver and Pittsburgh. In total Smith had 115 goals and 138 assists for 253 points in 535 NHL games. He added another 4 goals and 6 points in 18 playoff contests.

Smith was an incredible skater, with explosive speed and tremendous agility..

"I lot of people told me I was going to break my neck while I was playing in the NHL. I always played full out with reckless abandoned always wanted to win. One of my favorite plays was running the defensemen and really getting in on the forecheck and stirring things up."

Ironically Smith did end his career by breaking his neck, but it wasn't in the NHL. While playing Austria, Smith was chasing the puck into the corner with a defender. As Doug cut through the goal crease to chase the defender, he hit a rut in the ice and fell head first into the boards.

"I broke my neck in 200 places shattering two of my vertebrae, C5 and C6, it resulted in being paralysed from the neck down but I'm one of the fortunate few that have had an opportunity to learn how to walk again. I tried skating in 1996 but like a child learning to walk before he can skate I became frustrated after about five minutes and took my skates off."


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