Thursday, November 3, 2011
Stan Smyl first played junior hockey with the Bellingham Blazers of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League in 1974-75. He led the club to the Fred Page Cup with 33 points in 25 playoff games. He then joined the New Westminster Bruins of the Western Canada Hockey League for three playoff games later that same season before joining the team full time in 1974-75.
Smyl would be a force with the Bruins as the winger would score 32 goals and 74 points while compiling 169 penalty minutes in 72 games. The Bruins would go on to win the WCHL playoff title and advance to the Memorial Cup Final.
He would raise his goal total to 35 and his penalty minute total to 200 in 1976-77. Again, the Bruins would win the WCHL playoffs and return to the Memorial Cup, where they would emerge victorious following a 6-5 win over the Ottawa 67's.
His third season with the Bruins would raise his stock with the NHL scouts, as he set a new personal best with 76 points despite being limited to just 53 games. Once again the Bruins won the WCHL playoffs and returned to defend their championship, their fourth straight Memorial Cup appearance and Smyl's third. Smyl put on a clinic during the playoffs, scoring 14 goals and 35 points in 20 playoff games (including 14 in the 5 games of the Memorial Cup) as the Bruins successfully defended their championship with a 7-4 win over the Peterborough Petes as Smyl was named the Memorial Cup MVP.
Earlier that same season, Smyl made his debut for Canada at the 1978 World Junior Tournament, earning a bronze medal.
Following the season, Smyl would be taken 40th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft and then appeared in 62 games for the Canucks, scoring 38 points as a rookie.
In 1979-80, Smyl left no doubt he belonged in the NHL, as he averaged a point per game with 78 points in 77 games to lead the Canucks in scoring as well as leaving no doubts about his toughness with 204 penalty minutes. He also set a Canucks record with a 12 game point scoring streak and recorded his first NHL hat trick on March 7th.
He played in all 80 games in 1980-81 while scoring 63 points. For the 1981-82 season, he again played in all 80 games while equalling his high of 78 points, which included a new personal best of 34 goals. Late in the season he was named team captain, a position he would hold for the next eight years. The Canucks would qualify for the playoffs despite a losing record and go on to sweep the Calgary Flames in 3, oust the Los Angeles Kings in 5 and defeat the Chicago Black Hawks in 5 to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals only to face the powerful New York Islanders in the third season of their four year dynasty.
As captain, Smyl thrived, setting career highs in 1982-83 in goals (38), assists (50) and points (88) to not only lead the club in scoring for the second time, but also set a franchise record for most points in a season while also bettering his own team record with a 13 game point scoring streak in the process.
During the 1984-85 season, Smyl would become the Canucks all-time leading goal scorer as he would pass Don Lever with his 187th goal. With Vancouver missing the playoffs for the first time since Smyl's arrival, he was available to participate in the World Championships for Canada for the only time in his career, scoring a goal in ten games, which would be the game winner in a 3-1 victory over the Soviet Union on the way to a silver medal.
Despite suffering a late season season knee injury in 1985-86, Smyl was still able to keep his streak of seven seasons of 60 points or more alive on his way to earning his third Cyclone Taylor Award as Cancuks MVP, with the other two coming in 1980 and 1983.
Smyl would set a Canucks record for games played, passing Harold Snepsts on November 5, 1986 when he appeared in his 648th game. Five weeks later, he became the Canucks career point leader in style, recording a hat trick to give him 551 points to pass Thomas Gradin. While he failed to reach 60 points, he did record 20 goals for the eighth consecutive campaign.
Smyl would play four more seasons for Vancouver to close out his career as the Canucks leader in goals (262), assists (411), points (673) and games (896). While his offensive numbers would decrease dramatically near the end of his career, he was still a valuable player thanks to his defensive skills and relentless checking as well as his leadership.
He would later become the first Canucks player to have his jersey number retired on this date in 1991 when his #12 was raised to the rafters.
Today's featured jersey is a 1987-88 Vancouver Canucks Stan Smyl jersey. Smyl's rookie season was the first for the Canucks new black, orange and yellow "flying V" jerseys, which lasted until 1985, when today's featured style was introduced. These jerseys took on a somewhat more traditional approach, with the team logo as the main crest and a return to classic arm and waist striping.
Still, the Canucks bold colors still remained, standing out against a sea of reds and blues in the NHL, and they were one of only two teams, with the Kings being the other, to have yellow/gold home jersey rather than the traditional white.
These jerseys would remain in use for four seasons through the 1988-89 season when the home jersey returned to being white and the bold shoulder V striping was removed in a jersey makeover for the final three seasons of Smyl's career.
Today's video section begins with a look at Smyl's career as one of the greatest Canucks ever.
Next, a commercial for Stan Smyl night.
Finally, a look back at the New Westminster Bruins of 1977, which includes and interview with Smyl.