Feb. 20, 1993: The NY Islanders raise Billy Smith's No. 31 to the rafters

New York Islanders 4 Pittsburgh Penguins 2 February 20 1993 - Billy Smith Day
New York Islanders 4 Pittsburgh Penguins 2 February 20 1993 - Billy Smith Day / Sab

On this date in 1993, the New York Islanders retired the No. 31 jersey of the best-money goaltender of all time, Billy Smith. "Smitty" spent 17 of his 18 NHL seasons on Long Island and was an original Islander, selected by GM Bill Torrey in the 1972 Expansion Draft.

Smith became the franchise's only Vezina Trophy winner after the 1981-82 season and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy after the 1983 Stanley Cup Final when the Islanders captured their fourth straight Stanley Cup with a four-game sweep of the Edmonton Oilers. He was also the first goaltender ever "credited" with scoring a goal.

In front of a sell-out crowd at the Nassau Coliseum, play-by-play announcer Jiggs McDonald served as emcee of a pre-game ceremony where they played a voice message before special guests from the Islanders dynasty teams took the ice. "Whether it was making a key save to win a Stanley Cup or negotiating his contract, no one fought harder than Smitty," said Torrey before taking the ice wearing his customary bow tie. Smith was working for the team, serving as a goaltending coach for Mark Fitzpatrick during that 1992-93 season.

Bryan Trottier then took the mic as his teammates presented him with a jet ski to create havoc on Lake Ontario, along with a framed No. 31 jersey. Smith was the first and only player ever to wear it for the franchise. "I think he likes me better off the ice than on," Smith said of former coach Al Arbour during a brief speech. "It's a team thing, guys; I couldn't done it without you; I appreciate all the help."

No. 31 then ascended to the rafters joining the numbers of Denis Potvin and Mike Bossy as fans changed "Bil-ly!, Bil-ly" with the organ leading the way. The feisty goaltender then hopped into a convertible and took one more lap around the Nassau Coliseum ice; all that was missing was a beer can in his hand. Smith was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame later that year.

To make the night even better, the Islanders topped the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 behind a hat trick from Pierre Turgeon.