NY Islanders: The story behind Billy Smith's pond photoshoot

Billy Smith's #31 retired by NY Islanders in 1993 | Oh Yeah | SNY
Billy Smith's #31 retired by NY Islanders in 1993 | Oh Yeah | SNY / SNY

Legendary Getty Images photographer Bruce Bennett spent years taking pictures of the New York Islanders during the dynasty years at the Nassau Coliseum, but it's one he took off the ice and near a pond that is often shared during the summer months.

In 1983, Bennett was assigned a photo shoot of the Islanders goaltender for a magazine entitled Inside Sports. The article was about how Smith had adapted to life on Long Island and how much he was enjoying living there, so the idea for the shoot was to capture a day in the future Hall-of-Fame goaltender's life. Bennett pitched the idea, and 'Battlin' Billy' was game for it.

"There was a small pond [Tinkers Pond] I knew of in Woodbury, New York, that wasn’t far from the Islanders practice rink, and I floated the idea to him," Bennett said in a 2017 interview for The Score. "He got his equipment on in the parking lot, and we walked over to the pond as I carried my father’s lounge chair.

An unmasked but fully geared Smith sipping a Long Island iced tea is one of the many iconic photos Bennett has in his portfilio, many of which were included in his hardcover book, The Hockey News: Hockey's Greatest Photos: The Bruce Bennett Collection.

"Very pensive Billy Smith, something you don't see too often," Bennett said in a 2015 podcast interview with IslesBlog. "It came out to be a really unusual image, one I was very happy with because, as the team photographer for years, what I really wanted to do with the players was put them in full uniform and bring them to places in their city."

That wasn't the only 'action' photo Bennett took of Smith that day. He also snapped shots of him driving his red sports car and cutting fire wood, but it's the one he took of the intense Smith in a serene setting near a pond off Jericho Turnpike that remains iconic.