Archives: The Steamer hangs up his skates

This day in history: July 3, 1991

Stan Smyl, the man nicknamed The Steamer for his punishing playing style, announced his retirement after 13 seasons with the Canucks, 262 career goals and several team records.

At 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, Smyl wasn't supposed to be big enough or fast enough to make it in the big league. Despite four straight Memorial Cup appearances and the two championships with the New Westminster Bruins, he was only selected in the third round, 40th overall, in 1978 behind fellow WHL stars Bill Derlago and Curt Fraser. It turned out to be one of the best draft picks the Canucks ever made. In just his second season, Smyl led the team in goals (31), assists (47) and points (78), a feat the feisty winger managed while also leading the team in penalty minutes (204). He was also a big part of the team’s unlikely run to the Stanley Cup final in 1982, notching nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games. It was the same season he was named interim captain after Kevin McCarthy broke his ankle in practice and was finished for the season.

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Smyl kept the "C" until 1990, when management decided to shift the position to three other players (Dan Quinn, Doug Lidster and Trevor Linden) on a rotating basis, ending the NHL's longest captaincy.

Although only 33, the physical role he took upon himself took its toll and, in his final season, he was a healthy scratch 34 times, many of those down the stretch run when the Canucks were fighting for a playoff spot. He also wasn't called upon in any of the Canucks' six first-round playoff games with the Los Angeles King.  

Smyl immediately turned to coaching and spent the next 13 years either as an assistant with the Canucks or a head coach for one of their farm teams. He currently serves as a senior advisor to general manager Jim Benning.

His number 12 jersey was the first in team history to be hung from the home arena rafters, where it has since been joined by those of Linden, Markus Naslund and Pavel Bure.


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