April 29, 2004
(TORONTO) -- The hockey world received some sad news Thursday learning Maple Leafs great Sid Smith passed away at the age of 78.
Born in Toronto in 1925, Smith first joined the Maple Leafs in 1946, but didn't play his first game until the following February.
He spent the 1948-49 season with the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL after a serious knee injury threatened to end his playing career. He returned to the Toronto squad for the playoffs after finishing the season in Pennsylvania with 112 points in 68 games. His 55 goals in the "A" that year would remain a record for 34 years.
It didn't take long for Smith to feel at home again in Hogtown.
In his first game back, he scored a pair of goals and assisted on another in the semifinal versus the Boston Bruins. The Leafs would move on to the 1949 Stanley Cup Final versus Gordie Howe and his Detroit Red Wings. In the second game of that series, Smith would score all three Toronto goals in a 3-1 Maple Leafs win.
Reportedly, after the loss when reporters asked Howe about Toronto's hot goal scorer, he replied, "Who's Sid Smith?"
Rest assured that would be the last time Gordie asked that question as the Leafs would sweep the Wings for their third-consecutive Cup. The next season, Smith stuck with the Leafs and remained on the line with captain, Teeder Kennedy and Bill Eziniki.
Smith had a flair for the dramatic as he always seemed to step it up in the biggest of moments. In the 1951 Stanley Cup Final, he put home the overtime winner helping the Leafs take home their fifth Cup in six years. He also scored the first-ever televised goal for the Maple Leafs during their first broadcast in 1952.
Smith finished his career NHL career in 1958 and could look back on six consecutive 20-plus goal seasons. He led the Leafs in points and goals on four occasions and he was twice named Lady Byng winner. Three times Smith was an NHL All Star and once a first teamer, he also represented the Maple Leafs in seven NHL All-Star Games.
Smith captained the Blue & White in 1955-56 when Kennedy retired for a single season, he would return the "C" after Kennedy's return in '57.
The next season, Smith would choose to leave the NHL 12 games into the campaign and move to the Whitby Dunlops of the OHA. As player/coach he would guide the Dunnies to gold at the 1958 World Championship, scoring nine goals in only seven games.
One of the true greats in Maple Leafs history, No. 8 in your program, Sid James "Muff" Smith will be remembered for his contribution on and off the ice by hockey fans everywhere.