After 17 years, one of the game’s toughest and most respected warriors has decided to hang up his skates.
“This summer, as I was training and working out, I just didn’t feel it. It’s just time to take on something new,” Jason Smith told the Ottawa Sun on Wednesday. “I thought about it quite a while. Not like I flipped a coin and made a decision. It’s time to move on.”
Smith, also known as Gator, wasn’t a Flyer for long. But he didn’t need to be to earn the respect of the Philadelphia fans. Acquired by the Flyers in the trade that sent defenseman Joni Pitkanen to Edmonton, Smith spent just one year (2007-08) in the Orange and Black, still making a lasting imprint.
Coming off an atrocious year in which the Flyers showed little of anything, Smith entered a locker room full of youngsters. His quiet but intimidating leadership instantly rubbed off on the fledgling team, helping to catapult them to one of the best recovery seasons in recent memory. The Flyers leaped from dead last in the NHL in 2006-07, to Eastern Conference finals in 2007-08.
Named the 16th captain in Flyers’ history late in training camp, Smith is best known for standing up for teammates and playing with through pain. After being somewhat scorned for slowing down immensely in the 2008 playoffs, it was leaked that Smith was playing with two severely separated shoulders. But you didn’t hear him complain. In fact, no one would have known if the news didn’t leak out of the training room.
35-year old Smith played 1008 NHL games between the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Flyers and Ottawa Senators.
“I thoroughly enjoyed coming to the rink every day,” said Smith. “I’m going to spend some time with my family and enjoy it.”