Hockey Hall of Famer Clint Smith
, the last surviving member of the 1940 Rangers Stanley Cup championship team, passed away on Tuesday, May 19, at age 95.
The Rangers organization was informed of Smith's passing by his family. The oldest living Rangers alumnus had been residing in Vancouver, where he began his pro career as an 18-year-old in 1932. His death comes just over two months after the loss of his former Rangers teammate Alf Pike, also a member of the 1940 Stanley Cup championship team.
|Clint Smith, shown here during a team celebration of the 1940 Stanley Cup championship, was a two-time Lady Byng Trophy winner and former holder of the NHL record for assists in one season. |
A native of Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, Smith played for more than 20 years as an amateur and professional, beginning in 1931 with a junior team in Saskatoon and ending with minor-league stints in St. Paul, Minn., and Cincinnati in the early 1950s. Between 1937 and 1947, he played 483 NHL games, including 281 with the Rangers before he joined the Chicago Black Hawks in 1943.
Smith signed a contract with the Rangers in October 1932 and was eventually called up from the team’s AHL affiliate in Philadelphia, where he had scored 54 points in only 47 games. He broke in with the Blueshirts as a 23-year-old on March 9, 1937, playing at The Garden against the old New York Americans. Over the next six seasons, he would miss only a handful of games en route to a total of 80 goals and 195 points as a Ranger.
Nicknamed “Snuffy”, Smith was a 5-foot-8 dynamo at center, who scored 14 goals for the Rangers in his first full NHL season of 1937-38, which was also penalty-free. He stepped up his game in a brief 1938 playoff run, scoring twice in three games against the Americans, a series which ended with a quadruple-overtime loss.
In his second season as a Ranger, Smith put up 21 goals and 41 points, both career highs for his years with the Rangers. He led the team in both categories for 1938-39. During that season, he ended a streak of 85 consecutive NHL games without being whistled for a penalty and earned the Lady Byng Trophy for his remarkable sportsmanship – the first Ranger other than Frank Boucher to earn that honor.
Smith would win a second Lady Byng Trophy in his first season with Chicago in 1943-44. He also set an NHL record for assist in one year, picking up 49 for the Hawks.
During the Rangers' 1939-40 championship year, Smith missed seven games due to injury, but still managed eight goals and 24 points in 41 games. Healthy for the entire playoffs, he scored a goal and added three assists to help the Blueshirts to series wins over Boston in the semifinals and Toronto in the Cup Finals.
After his final NHL season with the Black Hawks in 1946-47, Smith moved into the USHL as player-coach of the Tulsa Oilers and won the league’s MVP award in 1947-48. He returned to the Rangers organization that fall as head coach of the team’s USHL affiliate in St. Paul, Minn. He also ended up playing 46 games for the team over the next three seasons. Smith completed his coaching career as head coach of the AHL’s Cincinnati Mohawks in 1951-52 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame at age 77 in 1991.
Smith retained ties to the Rangers organization throughout his life and took part in the team's 75th anniversary celebration nine years ago at Madison Square Garden. He was also a member of the Vancouver Canucks Alumni, having been honored as one of that city's earliest professional hockey players, who helped pave the way for the arrival of the NHL.
Funeral arrangements were still pending as of Thursday. The family has requested in lieu of flowers that donations be made in Clint Smith’s name to:
The British Columbia Hockey Benevolent Foundation
Registered Charity: #0738021-23-27
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