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50 Kings - Doug Smith

by LA Kings /

Nowadays, whenever the Los Angeles Kings' 'Miracle on Manchester' game comes up, it's usually the image of Daryl Evans' goal and his euphoric mustache-full celebration that ensues.

But Evans scored the game's sixth goal that night, from Doug Smith, in overtime no less - so what about the other five goals in in the game - the ones that pushed the game into extra time in the first place?

Doug Smith also scored goal number two in that game, on the power play, roughly three minutes after teammate Jay Wells scored, which made the score 5-2 in favor of the Edmonton Oilers. The Kings went on to win 6-5 in overtime, after being down 5-0 in the third period. The game is the largest comeback win in NHL playoff history.

"The only thing that I can remember from that night was the anger from the laughter on the other team's bench," describes Smith. "That's one of the things I will never forget. The fuel that that supplied to us, the anger that that put into us was phenomenal. We're machines, so we respond to certain behavior in certain ways, and we're taught to respond to that type of behavior in a way that elevates us, and it did."

At that time, the players didn't comprehend the magnitude that game carried with respect to LA Kings history.

"To me it was just another game. I wasn't the type of player who looked backwards or forwards," tells Smith, who was drafted by the Kings, second overall in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, the highest draft pick and youngest drafted by the Kings at that time. "At that time in my life it was like 'what a party we are going to have. This is going to be the best party ever.'"

The late and recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, Pat Quinn, who began coaching the Kings during Smith's time in LA, was one of Smith's fondest memories.

"He joined the team and sat down with each player and I told him what I was trying to achieve and he committed to helping me make that happen. He believed in me and fulfilled what he said he would do," says the now 53 year-old Smith of Quinn.

"In life we always remember when people believe in us, and when I was in LA there were a lot of people who believed in me and gave me a chance," recalls Smith. "Every one of those times that a coach believed in me, that somebody supported me, I remember those. Pat was one of those people."

During Smith's time in LA he became acquainted with the Meistrell Family, who are the owners of the water wear company, Body Glove. Bill Meistrell acted as a father figure to Smith in Los Angeles, and the entire family embraced him as one of their own.

"I always lived down at the beach because I'm a beach guy," Smith says, speaking to their common interest.

To this day, he remains friends with the Meistrells. "I can never come into town and not spend quality time with the family and visit head office. Good people who care"

Although he hasn't seen them in many years, Smith is looking forward to spending time with Jim Fox, Kings alumnus and current color analyst, whom he played with as part of the Ottawa 67's before playing together with the Kings, as well as Evans, also a color analyst.

"I bet they haven't changed a bit," Smith declares. "They are extremely open and supportive guys."

During Smith's nine-year NHL career he battled through trauma and injury like everyone else. "It taught me that I could break through adversity to reach my goal. Injury and trauma in my life have taught me that no matter how bad it is, it can and will get better." The shattered spine that would end his career was the one he used to most positively define him.

On February 7, 1992, while Smith was playing his 607th professional game with a team in Austria, he went full-speed into the end boards, head first, and shattered the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae in his neck. After 4 months and three surgeries, he woke up in the intensive care unit, a quadriplegic. Smith was only 29 years old, and had just had his second daughter with his wife, Patti, a week earlier.

"Everything that I knew, everything that I was was taken away. I was suddenly left with nothing but my thoughts. No bladder, no bowels, no arms, no legs. I was only ever seen as a physical entity, and when I was paralyzed, it woke me up," admits Smith, who describes himself as 'reckless abandon' as a teenager; like most teenagers are.

After being atrophied down to 152 pounds, Smith decided to dedicate himself to the research and anatomy that would not only enable himself to walk again, but would also help others recovering from trauma and injury. Today, Doug's body lives in a small space in between quadriplegic and able bodied. I strive to be the best I can be and I feel I get better every year. In 2005 (13 years after) he started skating again.

For more than two decades Doug has worked to identify, organize and document the key priorities & behaviors he has used to recover and drive extremely high performance. Today he delivers a cohesive life system utilizing these key priorities & behaviors and makes the system available to individuals, teams and leadership.

Doug is the Author of 'The Trauma Code,' Unlocking your Performance and in 2016 qualified for the prestigious TEDx talks. "I think the world is ready to hear my story and message. It is important.

"I had to write and do research, it wasn't an option," insists Smith about why he chose to engage in such in-depth work. "The only way I was going to get better was by learning,"

In 2015, Doug's literary work was accepted into Canada's Parliamentary Library for all time and the methods that Smith has developed are helping organizations like the Canadian Forces, Society for Neuroscience, Health Canada, RCMP, ISO and Canada Border Services Agency. His work is supporting the mental health movement in Canada as well as Brain Injury Associations across North America. He is currently working on a Playbook for Mental Performance for elite hockey players.

Smith now lives in Ottawa, and he and Patti are looking forward to celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary next summer. Their daughters are now 27 and 24, and Smith feels like he has 'won the lottery,' surviving the way he has and having this second opportunity to contribute to society with his family beside him.

He may be far away from hockey highlight videos, but Smith has found that simply meeting his basic needs, working on his clarity of thought and helping other people makes him happy. "Happiness for me is not about trying to be the best in the world, Happiness for me is about trying to be the best for the world."

Special Thanks - Deborah Lew

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