5 random players you forgot were on the Los Angeles Kings

Cliff Ronning, Los Angeles Kings. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images/NHLI)
Cliff Ronning, Los Angeles Kings. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images/NHLI) /
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Billy Smith. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Billy Smith. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Kings: Billy Smith

The backstop behind the Islanders’ dynasty of the early 1980s was in the NHL before his famous employer existed. While Smith played most of 1970-71 and 1971-72 for the AHL’s Springfield Kings, he garnered five games in Los Angeles.

But neither Gary Edwards nor Rogie Vachon were going anywhere at that point. Accordingly, Smith went to Long Island’s expansion franchise and stayed for 17 seasons.

After going 1-3-1 as a rookie for the Kings, Smith split the inaugural Islanders workload with Gerry Desjardins. Although Desjardins played the majority of the games, Smith got the majority of the wins (seven of 12).

Over the next 16 years, Smith was the go-to goalie for Al Arbour’s squad. While the Isles rose from scratch to respectability in the ’70s, he placed among his position’s top 10 All-Star vote-getters four times. He did it once more in 1980-81, then garnered the Vezina Trophy in 1982.

For the last of the team’s four consecutive championships, Smith was the postseason MVP and also earned the Jennings. He appeared on the Vezina ballot a third and final time while bolstering the Isles’ run to a fifth straight final in 1984 (losing to Fuhr’s Oilers).

Naturally, there were other crucial cogs in the Islanders’ early-’80s reign. One of the last pieces they acquired before reaching the summit was depth center Butch Goring, a one-time teammate of Smith’s on the Springfield and L.A. Kings.

Due to his prolific multi-year runs in both markets, Goring’s transfer from Hollywood to Long Island garners more attention. But the Kings faithful ought to wonder what could have been if Smith had sprouted in their crease.

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