Tuesday

Sid Smith

Sid Smith was the Toronto Maple Leafs "master of the tip-in" from 1949 thorough 1958. That's how one reporter described the hometown left winger who made a career out of deflecting point shots.

"It became my trademark, in a way." said Smith. "The thing was to keep an eye on the puck coming in from the point or in the direction of the net and just make that slight deflection because it threw the goalie off. He's play it for the shot from the point or wherver its from and I'm just sort of cruising in and making a deflection, or sometimes you caused a problem with the goalie. He'd lose sight of it because you are hanging around."

At 5'10 and 175lbs Smith was of pretty average size for his era, but he couldn't rely on parking himself in front of the net like today's giants do. Instead he had to keep zipping in front of the goalie.

"If you stood still you were going to get knocked on your keester!"

Another difference between now and then was back then the slapshot had still not be invented.

"If it was today, you'd really have to be careful or you're liable to get killed! That slapshot is just treacherous!"

Smith grew up in Toronto admiring the Maple Leafs, but was never noticed until he reached junior hockey. The Leafs never expressed any interest in him, so it came as a suprise to Smith when he learned the Leafs had placed him on their protected list.

"I never knew I was even on the list or anything," he said. "I figured that was just about it as far as making the NHL goes."

After playing some games in the Quebec Senior League, Smith signed with Toronto in 1946 but spent much of the next 3 years bouncing back and forth between the big leagues and minor leagues.

In 1948-49 Smith had a AHL season to remember. He set new scoring records in the top minor league, scoring 55 goals and 112 points! Although he appeared in just 1 regular season game with the Leafs, he was recalled for the Leafs playoff drive. Smith replaced Vic Lynn in the lineup and played on a line with Teeder Kennedy and helped Toronto win the Stanley Cup! Perhaps his most famous game came in game 2 of the Cup Finals against Detroit when Smith scored all 3 Leaf goals in a 3-1 victory.

Needless to say Smith had a spot on the Leafs roster for the next season, and for the next few seasons. He was a constant 20-25 goal threat in an era when that really meant something. Twice he topped 30!

Towards the end of his career Smith slowed down production wise considerably. By 1957 the Leafs had a deal to send Smith to Detroit. Instead, Sid accepted a two year contract as a playing coach with the Whitby Dunlops, a senior club preparing for the world hockey championships.

"I'm kind of sorry in one way and glad in another because we played for a world championship and we won it. On the other hand I would have liked to continue on with my career and score a few more goals. But winning the world championships against the Russians compensated for everything."

In those days the switch from the NHL to international hockey was a shock to say the least. Games were sometimes played on outdoor rinks. Smith recalls having to play in snow and hail. He also recalls the brutal officiating. International referees frowned upon Canada's game of heavy body contact.

"We could hardly make a move. They did not call stick infractions like spearing and slashing, that were an art among European teams. We had more injuries from sticks playing against those European teams than we did in our own league in Canada!"

Smith ranks the experience of winning the world championship as "very, very close" to that of winning the Stanley Cup. "The Stanley Cup is every hockey players dream though" he conceded.

Smith and the Dunlops went on to win the Allan Cup the following year. He attempted to return to the National Hockey Leage in 1960 at the urging of Leafs boss Punch Imlach, but the league did not reinstate him.

After hockey, Smith went into the graphics business. He also formed a NHL Oldtimers hockey club that played games for charity.

2 comments:

Anonymous,  10:57 AM  

Thanks for the info. I'm his great nephew so in your face!!!

AL KARASIUK,  10:44 AM  

How this gentleman has been ignored by the Hall Of FAME Committee and why his Leaf jersey and number 8[eight]have never been retired is mind boggling to say the least.Today the supposed Toronto sports types are doing cartwheels over Sundin and Gilmour not long ago.Very good, notoutstanding players who never can close to bringing the Stanley Cup to Toronto. SID SMITH was on three Cup teams plus many more achievements yet has been ignored all of these years.R.I.P. my friend. AL KARASIUK WASAGA BEACH.

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