Friday, December 20, 2013
On this date in 1981, the Winnipeg Jets faced off against the St. Louis Blues. Just after the opening face-off and before the fans could even settle into their seats, Winnipeg's Doug Smail scored just five seconds into the game to set a new NHL record for the fastest goal at the start of a game to break the eight year old record of six seconds set in 1973 by Henry Boucha of the Detroit Red Wings against the Montreal Canadiens.
Boucha's record was equalled by the Pittsburgh Penguins Jean Pronovost in 1976, also against the Blues.
Paul McLean added to the Jets lead two minutes later, but the Blues came back with three consecutive goals by the half way point of the game to overcome the early Jets lead. As the third period began, the Jets reasserted themselves with three goals of their own within the first 11 minutes of the third period on scores by Bengt Lundholm, Smail again and Willy Lindstrom.
When Perry Turnbull added a meaningless goal with 9 seconds remaining in the game, Smail also then received credit for the game winning goal to go along with his new record.
Bryan Trottier of the New York Islanders later equalled Smail's record on March 22, 1984 in a 3-3 draw against the Boston Bruins.
Buffalo's Alexander Mogilny joined the group on ten years and a day after Smail's goal when he intercepted a cross ice passing attempt by Michel Petit, skated in and fired a shot past goalie Jeff Reese to begin a 4-1 Sabres victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Smail played at the University of North Dakota, which included winning an NCAA championship in 1980 and earning tournament MVP honors. The ultra quick winger played 13 NHL seasons, ten of those with the Winnipeg Jets before a trade to the Minnesota North Stars for one season. He would also play single seasons with the Quebec Nordiques and Ottawa Senators before finishing out his career with three year stint in Great Britain.
His NHL high of 66 points came in 1984-85 with his only 30 goal season, with 31 goals, and a career high 35 assists. He was primarily a penalty killer and defensive forward in the high flying 1980's. He did have three additional 20 goal seasons for the Jets, but never reached even 50 points in the NHL again. Of note however, was his first season with the Fife Flyers in Great Britain, where in 53 games, and free of his NHL defensive responsibilities, Smail cut loose with 74 goals and 139 points! Oddly, he also racked up 114 penalty minutes, nearly three times his NHL average of 46, which came in a considerably longer 80 game season.
Today's featured jersey is a 1982-83 Winnipeg Jets Doug Smail jersey. To celebrate their move to the NHL from the WHA, the Jets took the opportunity to revamp their jerseys, introducing an entirely new (to them) style which featured full length sleeve striping, a pattern formerly used by the New York Rangers while under the control of general manager John Ferguson, who now held the reins in Winnipeg. One unique feature of the jersey was the extremely thin font used for the names on the back. This style would serve the Jets well through 11 seasons until 1989-90.
Sadly, we were unable to locate video of Smail's goal but were able to find a clip of Trottier's rapid goal.
Recently Alexander Radulov of Salavat Yulaev Ufa took a run at Smail's record when he set the Russian and Kontinental Hockey League record at six seconds, besting Andrei Pchelykaov's Russian Super League goal at seven seconds.