But the Islander legend is certainly happy to see his former team playing so well in their final season at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders are 14-6-0 through the first 20 games of the season and after Saturday night's win are tied for first place with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"“I think it’s great. They’ve got life and they’ve got speed," Smith said of the current team. "The big thing now is when they go into a slump, and everybody does. You’re not going to win every game. There’s no such thing, but if they start losing two or three you’re going to need your superstars like we had. Boss, trots and, ya know, Potvin. They’re going to have to pull them and it just depends how long they stay in. That’s what decides if you make the playoffs or not.”
If any would know what it takes to make it to the playoffs (and beyond) it would be Smith. The goaltender has four cups to his name, 132 playoff game appearances -- all with the Islanders -- and 88 playoff wins.
However, Smith's run with run with the Islanders started off in a wacky way. The legendary Islander was playing minor league hockey in New Haven, Connecticut when the team called him up in 1972.
"They told me I had to be up here for practice the next morning. So I left early and had no idea about the Island," Smith explained. "I ended up driving all the way to the end of the Island. Turned around and drove all the way back. I got to the rink and still made it to practice on time."
The hall of famer doesn't have any trouble these days finding Nassau Coliseum, the venue he called home until he retired in 1989, or around Long Island. "It’s a great rink," he said of the aging arena.
"It’s still a great rink. Unfortunately we need new rinks now with more plush boxes," Smith continued. "it’s technology and unfortunately this old building doesn’t have the technology it deserves, and it needs to keep running the way it should.”
Nassau Coliseum was sold out on Saturday night and the fans gave Smith standing ovations as he took the ice to drop the ceremonial puck drop and when he was shown on the video board during a break in action during the game.
Billy Smith the person was honored to be invited back for Saturday night's game, but if Smith was still playing he may not have.
"but For me though, if I was a player, I’d just soon not have somebody do it," he said. "But that’s my own personal opinion, because I hated the game to be distracted. Which is what I think, but I’m honored to be doing it.”
The current roster didn't seem to mind one bit about having the legend in the house. Smith spoke to the team in the morning and they were shown a video of him from his playing days.
"He made the boys laugh a little bit," Ryan Strome said. "He seems like a funny guy. It’s great to have that presence in our dressing room. Obviously we know what he’s done in the past and he’s someone we can look up to.”