8

Top 100 Oilers: Steve Smith (16)

Steve Smith was a helluva defenseman with the Edmonton Oilers during a tenure that would see him sip from the Stanley Cup three times with the Boys on the Bus. Of that, there is no debate. What Smith has always been remembered for, though, is the moment he banked a clearing attempt off the skate of goaltender Grant Fuhr and into his own net in Game 7 of the 1986 Smythe Division final against the hated Calgary Flames.

In the aftermath of the stunning faux pas that put the Flames up 3-2 for good with 14:46 to play in the third period and ended a bid for Edmonton’s third straight Stanley Cup, there was Smith sprawled face down on the ice as a stunned crowd looked on. Later, tears in the dressing room. The big rookie was inconsolable. While it is the one single moment Smith, to this day, is best known for, it didn’t define him. Not nearly.

Steve Smith

Defense — shoots L
Born Apr 30 1963 — Glasgow, Scotland
Height 6.03 — Weight 215 [191 cm/98 kg]

Drafted by Edmonton Oilers

Round 6 #111 overall 1981 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1984-85

21

EDM

2

0

0

0

-2

2

3

0.0

1985-86

22

EDM

55

4

20

24

30

166

74

5.4

1986-87

23

EDM

62

7

15

22

11

165

71

9.9

1987-88

24

EDM

79

12

43

55

40

286

116

10.3

1988-89

25

EDM

35

3

19

22

5

97

47

6.4

1989-90

26

EDM

75

7

34

41

6

171

125

5.6

1990-91

27

EDM

77

13

41

54

14

193

114

11.4

1991-92

28

CHI

76

9

21

30

23

304

153

5.9

1992-93

29

CHI

78

10

47

57

12

214

212

4.7

1993-94

30

CHI

57

5

22

27

-5

174

89

5.6

1994-95

31

CHI

48

1

12

13

6

128

43

2.3

1995-96

32

CHI

37

0

9

9

12

71

17

0.0

1996-97

33

CHI

21

0

0

0

4

29

7

0.0

1998-99

35

CGY

69

1

14

15

3

80

42

2.4

1999-00

36

CGY

20

0

4

4

-13

42

10

0.0

2000-01

37

CGY

13

0

2

2

-2

17

3

0.0

7 yrs EDM

385

46

172

218

104

1080

550

8.4

6 yrs CHI

317

25

111

136

52

920

521

4.8

3 yrs CGY

102

1

20

21

-12

139

55

1.8

Career

804

72

303

375

144

2139

1126

6.4

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1985-86

22

EDM

6

0

1

1

4

14

5

0.0

1986-87

23

EDM

15

1

3

4

9

45

19

5.3

1987-88

24

EDM

19

1

11

12

16

55

26

3.8

1988-89

25

EDM

7

2

2

4

3

20

6

33.3

1989-90

26

EDM

22

5

10

15

15

37

35

14.3

1990-91

27

EDM

18

1

2

3

-8

45

30

3.3

1991-92

28

CHI

18

1

11

12

12

16

37

2.7

1992-93

29

CHI

4

0

0

0

-2

10

9

0.0

1994-95

31

CHI

16

0

1

1

2

26

11

0.0

1995-96

32

CHI

6

0

0

0

-2

16

3

0.0

1996-97

33

CHI

3

0

0

0

0

4

3

0.0

Career

134

11

41

52

49

288

184

6.0

NOTABLE

“If I think for one second people are not going to remember, I’m a fool to think that,” Smith said of his infamous own-goal on April 30, which, to make matters even worse, fell on his 23rd birthday. “I find that people around me are more protective about it than I am, quite frankly.” The goal, for those who somehow haven’t seen it, is here.

While some rookies might have buckled and folded their tents after a confidence-sapping debacle like Smith endured in those 1986 playoffs, he proved beyond any reasonable doubt he was made of far better stuff than that. Smith bounced back during the 1986-87 season and when the Oilers claimed their third Cup in the 1987 playoffs by beating the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games, Wayne Gretzky hoisted it briefly and then immediately handed it off to Smith. It was an unforgettable moment.

“I teach my kids on a daily basis about humility,” Smith said years later of bouncing back from the 1986 catastrophe. “I really believe that incident had a lot to do with making me a much humbler person. It probably taught me more about humility than a person could ever learn. From that day forward, I sincerely cheered for people. I didn’t want to see people fail. I didn’t want to ever see people have that type of day.”

THE STORY

It turned out Smith was just getting started with the first of his three Cup wins as an Oiler. During the 1987-88 regular season after Paul Coffey was traded to Pittsburgh, Smith led all Oiler D-men with 55 points – the first of three 50-point seasons he’d record (one with Chicago). He’d win his second Cup and lead Oiler blueliners in playoff points with 12.

Smith became the go-to-guy on Glen Sather’s blueline, proving he was more than just a big, tough and mobile shutdown guy. Smith led Edmonton D-men in scoring in three of the next four seasons after Coffey left and it might have been four straight had he not been limited to 35 games in 1988-89. Smith again led the blueline in playoff scoring with 15 points when the Oilers claimed their fifth Cup in 1990.

From the most humble of beginnings with the Oilers, Smith was arguably the team’s best blueliner for a span of five seasons. Smith was just 28 when Sather traded him to Chicago for Dave Manson and a draft pick that turned into Kirk Maltby in October of 1991. Smith retired after the 2000-01 season and returned to the Oilers as an assistant coach from 2010-14. I’ve always considered Smith somewhat underrated and it’s easy to argue he could be rated a notch or two higher among the D-men on this list.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up.

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