When you think of old school hockey, it’s simply impossible to not think of Billy Smith. The Islanders legend was truly a one of a kind goaltender, and his style of play made him a huge fan favorite.
Billy Smith played 680 games is the NHL, winning four Cups with the Islanders. In addition, he also happened to be the first goalie ever the be credited with a goal in the NHL. He retired in 1989, having spent his 17 previous years with the Islanders.
But it isn’t the goalkeeping skills that made Billy Smith so rememberable. Smith was known for his fiery temper, and was even nicknamed ”The Hatchet Man”. When someone stood in front of him, Smith simply made sure that they got out of his way – often with a stick to the opponent’s ankle.
And when on the ice, nobody was safe from Smiths rage. He recalls a game against Los Angeles Kings, when he took revenge from a bad call – by trying to start a riot.
”We had one game in Los Angeles when Bryan Trottier was tackled – literally tackled – behind the net,” said Smith to Sports Illustrated.
”He got up and told the ref to get into the damn game, and the guy gave Trottier an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. Los Angeles scored while we were shorthanded, so Bobby Bourne skated by the ref and said, ‘Way to go, homer.’ The ref gave Bourne an unsportsmanlike conduct. We were behind, so I went up to the ref and said, ‘O.K., we’ve lost the game; it’s over as far as I’m concerned. You’ve cost me a hockey game, and I’m going to make you pay!’ So when [Dave] Taylor went through my crease, I butt-ended him and then I tried to start a riot.
Dave Taylor didn’t foresee the attack.
“He nailed me right in the solar plexus. I was laid out a couple of minutes. I was pretty stunned”, Taylor recalls.
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