When it comes to international sports, each region has its own specialty. In the EU, football and rugby dominate, while South America focuses solely on football. Meanwhile, South Asia has a thriving cricket industry, and North America has basketball and its own version of ‘football’.
Though many would consider hockey to be a specifically Canadian endeavor, the sport does well around the world’s north. In North America, the National Hockey League bridges competition between the US and Canada. But Russia has just as a robust of a league with its Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Though not many hockey stars come from Scotland, there’s plenty of movement between Northern European countries and North America. In fact, many US pundits offering major league bets don’t just focus on the NHL, but also provide wagers for the KHL, Finland’s Liiga, and Switzerland’s NLA leagues.
The depth of talent between these leagues has led to countless international trades over the past decades. But no Scots have managed to leave the impression and legacy in the sport quite like Steve Smith.
A Founding Oiler
Founded in 1971, the Edmonton Oilers are one of the youngest hockey teams to continue playing today. Originally part of the World Hockey Association, the Oilers didn’t join the NHL until 1979.
Only two years later, Steven Smith was drafted by the Oilers to become part of their earliest NHL squad. Smith, drafted 111th overall in the 1981 Entry NHL Draft, didn’t have an immediately promising future in the world of hockey. He spent the next four years working with the Oilers to develop his talent before making his debut in 1985.
During this time, one of the most famous hockey players also donned the Oilers jersey: Wayne Gretzky. Though Smith started out as a green recruit, his early years playing alongside Gretzky and other legends helped him develop his skill and confidence in the rink.
Smith’s time with the Oilers saw him go down as part of the NHL’s Greatest All-Time Team, awarded to the 1984-85 Oilers squad by the NHL at their 2017 centennial celebration. Unfortunately for Smith, the next season (1985-86) would be a rocky debut.
In fact, Smith’s biggest claim to fame in the NHL is a disastrous own-goal he scored on his 23rd birthday while looking to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals by defeating the Oilers arch-rivals, Calgary Flames. Smith’s own-goal barred the Oilers from advancing, which saw the Flames take the Stanley Cup.
Fortunately for Smith, the Oilers won another Stanley Cup the following year. To help him repair his damaged reputation amongst fans, the Oilers let Smith take the first lap holding the trophy.
A Rich Career in Hockey
In the following years, Smith would go on to become a pivotal part of the Oilers squad. His abilities as an all-around defender were crucial, as was his aggressive style of play. Smith would go on to take home two more Stanley Cup trophies with the Oilers while leading the squad in blueliner points.
After a decade with the Oilers, Smith transferred to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1990, where he remained until 1997. The following year, he made a brief comeback playing for the Calgary Flames for three seasons.
Since then, Smith has gone on to coach on multiple teams in the NHL. His ability to turn his NHL career into a successful coaching career is an athlete’s dream. Smith has worked as a scout with the Blackhawks, coaching with the Oilers and Hurricanes. He’s currently the assistant coach for the Sabres.
Though Smith is now a citizen of Canada with roots in Cobourg, Ontario (and celebrated alongside other Canadian favorites like Corey Perry), he was born was Glasgow. The city is also the birthplace of other great Scottish hockey players, including Gordie Clark and Bobby Connors.
Continuing Smith’s legacy is son Barron Smith, who plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was drafted in 2009.
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