Motor City Smitty - Brad Smith

Detroit is at heart a blue collar town with blue collar heroes. There have been few blue-collared heroes more beloved than Brad Smith, better known as Motor City Smitty.

That he became synonymous with Detroit is odd in that in 5 seasons with the Red Wings he spent more time in the minor leagues and injury reserved list than he did on the ice. He played more in Vancouver, Calgary and later Toronto than he did for Detroit.

Smith was, well, a character. He rarely scored, notching just 28 career goals in 222 career games. And the joke was he could barely skate.

The helmetless winger certainly did look awkward as he hustled on the ice, giving it his all. He had little talent, but he was the ultimate hustler. Even on icing calls he had no chance of eliminating, he would try as if his career depended on it. By doing so he set the tone for his teammates and the atmosphere in the stands.

And that is why Smith became a fan favorite everywhere he went. He worked his butt off and sacrificed his body with big checks and countless fights.

After retiring as a player Smith became a coach with the OHL's Windsor Spitfires, guiding the likes of Cory Stillman and Todd Warriner to the NHL. He later became a top scout in the business, serving as a key pro scout during the Colorado Avalanche's Stanley Cup run in 1996.


Anonymous,  6:59 PM  

They called him "Motor City Smitty" because he was from Windsor, more than because he played for the Wings. And you say "he could barely skate." Though never a fancy skater, Smith was as fast as anyone from point A to B, as evidenced by his game-winning, series clinching, breakaway goal against St. Louis in 1987. If memory serves, it was the only 7-game play-off series the Leafs won over a 15-year stretch. Also, you neglect to mention the two goals he scored in a span of 17-seconds over the Moscow Dynamo. Smith could score, and the fact that he didn't do it more often in the NHL is largely by reason of the fact that he was most often deployed as a defensive specialist, as noted by author William Houston, who considered Smith a smart defensive player. To take a guy's stats and boil his career down like you have is to look at this guy's career without context. Bottom line: Smith was a smart, tough, useful player -- a true professional.

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