Photo: Mark6mauno

Jason Smith arrived in a trade from Toronto (a 2nd and a 4th) in 1999, his third team in three seasons. An under the radar transaction led to a perfect fit for player and team that culminated in the "C" and a long Stanley run. It was the best of times. 

The day Edmonton traded for Jason Smith, there were many, many deals that got more press. On that deadline day in 1999, Detroit added Chris Chelios, Ulf Samuelsson, Wendel Clark and Billy Ranford. Colorado acquired Dale Hunter, Buffalo picked up Joe Juneau, Vincent Damphousse went to San Jose, Steve Duchesne to Philadelphia.

Way way down the list, Jason Smith to the Oilers for a 2nd and a 4th.


Jason Smith played in the NHL (with NJD) at age 20. In an October win against Washington, Smith was -2 in his NHL debut. By season’s end he had played 41 games and was a plus 7, with a bright future ahead. As happens with many young defensemen, injuries played a part in Jason Smith’s career in a big way. He missed most of the following season (94-95) after suffering a knee injury in practice November 1994. In 95-96 he played well enough to be a regular but struggled the following year and found himself traded to Toronto February 1997. At the 1999 deadline he was on the road again. 

The Leafs were a strange team during that time, making all kinds of curious deals they’d regret and Smith was one of them. A quality NHL defender is worth more than a 2nd and a 4th but that was the pricetag. Jason Smith was quality for 7 seasons in an Oiler uniform and the Oilers enjoyed the heart of his career.

Jason Smith went to war for the Edmonton Oilers. Reliable defensively and more than capable of handling the physical game, Smith’s edgy play (he once punched the back of an oppenent’s head about 10 times in a row at the end of the game–ref’s hand is up, time is ticking off the clock, the puck is loose in the slot, the opposition forward is trying to find it–but Smith kept punching him in the back of the head!) made him a fan favourite early, and the fact that he was a stand up guy made him a natural leader.

"Gator" became well known as a guy who played through pain and injury routinely.


  • Drafted 18th overall, 1992
  • WHL All-Rookie Team, 1992
  • WHL First All-Star Team, 1993
  • Canadian Major Junior First All-Star Team, 1993
  • Bill Hunter Trophy (Top WHL Defenseman), 1993
  • Won a gold medal with the Canadian WJC team, 1993
  • Won a Calder Cup with the Albany River Rats, 1995
  • Captain of that wonderful 2006 Oiler team
  • Played in his 1000th NHL game, 2009
  • Captained his junior team, his AHL team, and two NHL teams
  • Longest serving captain in Oilers history (2001-07) 


Asked how he could play with two dislocated shoulders Smith replied "No excuses, I’m still living."


When Jason Smith arrived in Edmonton he was battle-hardened, had leadership qualities, had learned to deal with injury, had a boatload of defensive talent and was willing to do damn near anything to establish himself in Edmonton.

He played like that every night he was here, even after his body began to show signs of age and wear. He is fondly remembered as one of the toughest players to wear the uniform.

  • JSR

    One of the best defensemen to ever wear Oiler colors, in my opinion. My source in the organization tells me he was one of the strongest players he’d seen come through the door, and pain threshold was second to none. Second to none!
    I’d love to see him back with the organization. Maybe an assistant coach?

  • EasyOil

    Absolute warrior.

    One of my favourite memories is actually not one of the most flattering of him, but in his final few games as an Oiler: can’t remember who the Oil were playing or what the result of this particular play was, but the Oilers turned the puck over leading to a rush the other way, and Petr Nedved, seeing Smith struggling to make it up the ice fast enough, pushed him with his stick from behind to give him a boost. Classic moment, hilarious.

  • EasyOil

    His greatest games came in the 06 Cup run. I suspect anyone could look good next to Pronger but Smith appeared to take his game to a new level that spring. They were dominant.

  • 106 and 106

    All I see besides memories,very good memories,is a perfectly executed body check on the half boards or blueline with an EXCELLENT recovery.

    This is the way the NHL is evolving,we need to reaquire the template for players like this and start finding these men.With the recent evolution towards controlled zone transitions,stand-up hitting is now mandatory,small or medium sized d-men chasing guys will just get you penaltys,you need to RUB GUYS OUT of the play and land them on their asses or you arent getting the job done right,watch Gator,he FINISHES guys by putting them on the ice so he can recover back into the play first,thats not so dam hard to do if you play that way.

    Watch his elite recoverys from throwing those hits and you will see WHY he stepped up to throw them.hahaha,and watch the retaliations guys try to make.

    Gator cant make those hits unless he can recover first before his opponent,so remember this and how hard he is working after contact when you make your public votes about the direction our team needs to go in.Specific playing styles lend themselves to this stand-up checking and recovery ability.

    Thanks for the Memories, when i think Gator I think Ethan Moreau,and I see us with a Cup today with just those two men and todays roster,ha ha ha.

  • Milli

    Man was he one tough dude!!!! I remember him needing stitches in the 06 run, but he would not go to the room!!! got his stitches in the hall behind the bench and back to war!!! We need a GATOR!!!!!

  • blueorangekoolaid

    The Oilers should add him to the coaching staff. They need to teach some of these young guys to care like Gator did. I loved every part of his game. I loved the intimidating smile he had. What a beauty

  • Puritania

    My favourite Oiler of all time. I know he isn’t the most flashy, and definitely isn’t the most skilled, but he IS Oiler hockey. True definition of a warrior.

  • Oilers21

    Loved this guy; probably my all-time favourite. Shot wouldn’t break glass but there was no one tougher. I used to play NHL 2000 for PC and even his cyberface had a black eye and stitches

  • blueorangekoolaid

    Was an absolute Beast! Supreme warrior and tough as nails. One of my all time favorite Oilers! One of my favorite gator memory is when one year in the playoffs he blocked a shot and it hit him in the face. Gushing blood lip split wide open goes to the bench. Not going to the dressing room trainers and med staff get him to the hall way and all you see is a towel held up and smith getting stiched up right there! Came back to the bench lip sewn and hanging like something frankenstein has and back on the ice. My dad and I were asked why he didn’t go to the back? We replied, “It’s Smith, the playoffs, and he’s breathing”. One of the greats this team ever had in my opinion. Needs to be in the coaching staff… Would not object to see that number in the rafters if ever brought up.

    P.S.- Remember: Chuck Norris always checked under his bed and the boogeyman checked it’s closet for Jason Smith.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Anyone know how the assault and battery charge against his wife turned out. Never heard anything after the initial charges. Are they still together?

      Published Wednesday, October 27, 2010 10:59AM MDT

      Assault charges against former Oilers captain Jason Smith have been withdrawn after he agreed to abide by conditions in a one-year peace bond.

      A court heard that Smith was charged back in August following an alcohol-fuelled physical altercation with his wife Wendy.

      He was released shortly after his arrest and had to abide by a court-ordered separation that prevented Smith from having contact with his wife or visiting their Ontario residence.

      The couple is now living together in the Ottawa region. Smith must now continue domestic violence counselling, abstain from alcohol and report to a probation officer.