Thursday, February 13, 2020

Doug Smail: Four Autographed Cards

There was a time in the 1970s and early 80s where very good players from Saskatchewan didn't necessarily play in the WHL and instead went to American Colleges, which is what Doug Smail opted for when he signed up with the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks, posting three impressive seasons of 50 points in 38 games, 58 points in 35 games and a whopping 43 goals, 44 assists and 87 points in 40 games to finish out his WCHA/NCAA career in 1979-80.

He caught the eye of the Winnipeg Jets - not enough for them to draft him, mind you, but they did sign him as a free agent - and by the second year he was a full-time NHLer. He had a career year in 1984-85 with 31 goals, 35 assists and 66 points in 80 games, but he passed the 40-point mark four more times in the 'Peg before essentially spending his final two and a half seasons as a journeyman, spending 57 games with the Minnesota North Stars, and one season apiece with the Québec Nordiques and Ottawa Senators.

At one time, he shared the NHL record for quickest goal to begin a game at five second, tied with Merlyn Phillips, Bryan Trottier and Alexander Mogilny. It has since been broken by James Van Riemsdyk. He was extremely fast and swift, and because of the way he skated and his short size (he was 5'9" and 175 pounds and skated mostly bent forward), he looked like a bullet on the ice, as can be attested bt these two cards from Pro Set:
On the left is card #117 from the 1991-92 Series 1 set showing him wearing the North Stars' beautiful green (away) uniform; card on the right is #466 from the 1991-92 Series 2 set, where he's sporting the Nordiques' classic blue (away) uniform.

Here's another shot of the Nordiques' amazing blue uniform, showing Smail during a defensive zone face-off in front of goalie Jacques Cloutier, on card #124 from Upper Deck's 1992-93 Series 1 set:
And here he is wearing Québec's white (home) uniform - a rare sight in the early 1990s - on card #197 from Score's 1992-93 Series 1 (Low Numbers) collection:
It was thought after his lone season in La Belle Province with 28 points in 46 games and the subsequent season with the Sens where he posted 14 points in 51 games and even spent 9 games with the IHL's San Diego Gulls (3 points and 20 penalty minutes) that perhaps it was time for him to hang his skates up, but that was proven to be entirely wrong with his final three seasons, played in the British League:
From HockeyDB
Yeah. That's a 169-point season in 53 games. He was 20 points behind team leader Mark Morrison's 189 (in 57 games) for a team that went from last place to second overall on the strength of their Canadian imports that season. And two points per game the following two seasons for good measure also looks good on any resume.

Nowadays, he lives in Colorado and last I heard, he was coaching minor hockey. He's also the ideal #41 in my Nordiques Numbers Project.

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