Doug Smail Podcast Interview – Episode S4E03
Doug Smail, former player of the Winnipeg Jets NHL team , Fife Flyers and Cardiff Devils is my guest for the third episode of series 4.
Doug had 3 successful seasons at the University of North Dakota. Having found himself not included in the 1980 NHL draft, he signed for the Winnipeg Jets as a free agent. It was a good fit, he played 13 seasons in the NHL, playing 11 of those in Winnipeg with the Jets.
Read: The Doug Smail Blog Post
In 8 of those 11 seasons Doug helped the Jets to the NHL playoffs, twice making the Smythe division finals. Unfortunately, both times, the Jets came up against the juggernaut that was Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers.
In total Doug played 867 NHL league and playoff games, scoring 219 goals along the way.
One particular highlight of Doug’s career was a game against St Louis, he scored straight from the opening face off. That goal is still a record, which he shares jointly, for scoring the fastest goal to start an NHL game. The time, an incredible 5 seconds!
In the summer of 1993 Doug stunned the hockey world by moving directly from the NHL to the UK. He’d received offers from Elite teams in Switzerland, Italy and Germany but instead chose Scotland and the Fife Flyers.
As Doug recalls, my father’s heritage was Scottish, so I thought it would be great to go and have some fun.
We talk of Doug’s time in Scotland, playing as a Fife Flyer for the 1993 – 94 season. It was a good move for both player and club. Fife had their best season in 9 years.
The Flyers stormed the league and finished as Heineken British League runners up to the Cardiff Devils.
Success continued as the team fought their way through to the end of season Heineken Wembley Play Off Finals. However their journey ended with a disappointing 9 – 5 semi final defeat to the eventual Playoff champions, the Cardiff Devils.
One small consolation for Doug was that he was voted the Premier Leagues “Player of the Year”
Doug recalls, there was a lot of great players in the Premier league then, it was a thrill and a great honour.
On to Cardiff
Despite deciding to retire at the end of that season, Doug was tempted back to the UK by the Cardiff Devils.
The Devils needed to beef up their squad for their forthcoming European Cup semi final campaign in Belarus in Eastern Europe
Doug was signed on a short term contract and cherished his European experience, despite the Devils failure to reach the Final.
Return to Fife
Fast forward to January 1995 and the Fife Flyers persuaded Doug to return to Scotland to rejoin the Kirkcaldy club.
Ironically in his first game back he scored the final goal in a 7 – 4 home victory over his former Cardiff Devils team.
Fife wasn’t able to reach the highs of the previous season, finishing a disappointing 6th place in the league. They also failed to make the Heineken Wembley playoff finals.
On to Cardiff
Retirement beckoned again as once more he hung up his skates, only to be persuaded back by another UK team. This time the Cardiff Devils came a-calling with the lure of a potential management position the following season.
It was January 1996, Cardiff had struggled to maintain their high standards, they needed a boost and so called Doug.
Ironically, just like 12 months before, Doug made his debut against a former team. This time the Fife Flyers were on the end of a 9 – 1 drubbing, with Doug making a significant contribution.
In a tight finish to the league season the Devils managed a credible 2nd place, 4 points behind the Sheffield Steelers. Unfortunately a visit to the Playoff finals wasn’t to be, the team falling in the Quarter Finals.
The potential Devils management position never materialised and so Doug finally called time on his hockey career.
You can also listen to Podcast interviews from an alumni of former Fife Flyers and Cardiff Devils players here:
John Lawless Episode S1E11
Shannon Hope Episode S1E17
Ivan Matulik Episode S1E18
Hilton Ruggles Episode S1E24
Jason Wood Episode S1E28
Brian Kanewischer S1E30
Nicky Chinn Episode S3E02
Stephen Cooper Episode S3E10
Read: The Doug Smail Blog Post
Shout out time
In this episode I give a shout out to Fife Flyers fan Gary Young.
Gary emailed to say:
“Just started listening to this Podcast and find them fascinating,
brings back many happy memories.
I’d like to hear the thoughts of former Flyers legend
I also, say thanks to all of my Patreon Patrons:
Tommy Boll, Oscar Brownsword, Michael Cook, Colin Dunn, Sean Holland, John Hume-Spry, Jim Muir, Jim Murden, Jeff Povey, Chris Saddington and Andrew Williamson.
Thanks for your continued support guys
You know I really love contacting former players and recording their hockey memories and then editing and producing this Podcast to bring those memories to you.
More importantly I know you love hearing them too.
We all love listening to those often hidden stories from inside the game, the stories that we, as fans, never get to hear.
Above all it really gives me a buzz every time I upload a brand new Podcast, knowing that you’ll remember and reminisce about those memories from your hockey heroes of the past.
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