Former New York Islanders goalie Billy Smith, shown here signing an autograph for young fan Albert Plante in 2006, will be in Timmins for the third-annual Timmins Rock NHL Celebrity Golf Tournament at the Hollinger Golf Club on Saturday, Aug. 18. Smith will be joined for the event that features a four-person scramble by fellow former NHLers Kevin Stevens and Shayne Corson. POSTMEDIA FILE PHOTO
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – Former New York Islanders great Billy Smith was teed up to be part of the second-annual Timmins Rock NHL Celebrity Golf Tournament, but he had to withdraw at the last minute with former teammate Butch Goring taking his place.
Smith will, however, be on hand Saturday, Aug. 18, along with fellow former NHLers Kevin Stevens and Shayne Corson for the third-annual Timmins Rock NHL Celebrity Golf Tournament at the Hollinger Golf Club.
“My golf game is okay, but it’s not as good as Butchy’s,” Smith said, while en route to Bradford to work with a couple of goaltenders for the Barrie Colts.
“That’s all Butchy does in the summer is play golf.”
Smith, who hung up his skates following the 1988-89 season with the Islanders, is still pretty active for a retired player.
“I am really not retired,” he said.
“I work for a company out of Montreal called Magnus Stainless and I also hooked on with the Barrie Colts as a goalie coach.
“Between those two jobs and me running around doing different tournaments, there is not much time left.”
Coaching goalies is not anything new for Smith, of course, as after he hung up his skates he worked with Islanders netminders and then followed former New York general manager Bill Torrey to the Florida Panthers, where he served in the same role.
The Timmins Rock NHL Celebrity Golf Tournament will be one of about 10 similar events Smith will take part in over the course of a year.
“The (former NHL great and current Barrie Colts coach and director of hockey operations) Dale Hawerchuk one, they have a celebrity with each foursome,”Smith said.
“It all depends how big the tournament is. I just did one out in Summerside (PEI) where they had boxers, baseball players, (former Islanders forward) Bryan Trottier, (former Islanders forward) Mike Bossy and myself. I think they had about 12 or 13 athletes there.”
Smith likes the setup for the Timmins Rock NHL Celebrity Golf Tournament, as he, Stevens and Corson will each be set up at one of the par-threes where they will get to meet each of the teams as they progress through their rounds.
“That’s a good way to do it,” he said.
The former goalie enjoys getting a chance to hang out with his former Islanders teammates whenever he can.
“The current owners and management of the New York Islanders are really good people,” Smith said.
“They are trying to bring back all the old guys to do stuff with the organization, so the last couple of years we have met up more than we had in a while.”
During the course of his NHL career, Smith’s lengthy list of accomplishments included winning a Vezina trophy, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, All-Star games, 305 wins (30th among goaltenders), being credited with being the first goalie to score a goal in the NHL, winning four-straight Stanley Cups (1980, 1981, 1982, 1983), having his number retired by the Islanders and being inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Is there one of those accomplishments that stands out above all the others for Smith?
“I just think winning the cups is the best of all of it,” he said.
“Doing that is a team thing. I did a lot of things once, but I couldn’t seem to do them again, except for winning the cup.
“We had a great team and fortunately in our day, a lot of people don’t realize, out of those four cups, 16 guys were on the team that won every one of them.
“It wasn’t like we had a big turnover. We were able to keep all of our talent for four or five years in a row. I think that was one of the major things that helped us.”
All four of the cup victories are special in Smith’s mind, but there are a couple in particular that really stand out for him.
“I think the two most important ones were the first and the fourth,” he said.
“The first one, we didn’t know what it would take to win, so that was pretty big. The fourth one was really tough. Edmonton had a very, very strong team. Even though we were able to win four-straight, that didn’t have any bearing on how good they were.”
In addition to the great players on those Islanders teams, they had Torrey as their GM and Al Arbour as their coach.
“You need the best of the best to get where you are going,” Smith said.
“Both of them did a good job for us.”
The retired goalie gives a lot of credit to three of his teammates for the first of those four-straight cups in 1980.
“We were a pretty good team up until we started winning, but we didn’t have what we needed,” Smith said.
“What we needed and what we got to help us win was a guy by the name of Butchy Goring. The year we won our first Stanley Cup we got three guys who don’t get mentioned as much as they should. One was Kenny Morrow. The others were Gord Lane and Butchy Goring.
“All three of them were a big part of our hockey team.”
There, of course, was no shortage of stars on that first Stanley Cup-winning squad.
Up front, they had Trottier, Bossy, Goring, Bob Bourne, Clark Gillies, Duane Sutter, Bob Nystrom and John Tonelli, while the blue-line included Morrow, Lane, the Potvin brothers, Denis and Jean, Bob Lorimer and Stefan Persson, and Smith shared a crease with Glenn ‘Chico’ Resch.
“You could go down the list, everybody was there and they did the job they were supposed to do,” Smith said.
“That’s how you end up winning.”
A native of Perth, Smith has never been to Timmins before but he is looking forward to getting to visit the city.
“I have been up to Parry Sound and a few place around there, but I can’t ever remember making it up to Timmins,” he said.
He has not had a chance to talk to Goring about his experience during last year’s tournament, but he might do that before he heads up to the city.
“Maybe I should give him a call and see how it’s going,” he said.
Smith, of course, has four Stanley Cup rings won in four-consecutive years with the Islanders, but he does not intend to brag about more than Stevens (two), or Corson (none).
“At our age, I think the bragging has just about gone out of us,” he said.
“We are all pretty settled down now. They are great guys and it should be a lot of fun to hang out with them.”
The third-annual Timmins Rock NHL Celebrity Golf Tournament features a four-person scramble format, with a shotgun start at 1 p.m.
The on-course activities will be followed by a dinner and silent auction with many great items up for grab.
Spots are quickly filling up and teams interested in taking part should contact the pro-shop at the Hollinger Golf Club or email firstname.lastname@example.org.