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Former Flyer Blueliner Greg "Bird Dog" Smyth Taken by Cancer at 51

February 17, 2018, 11:10 PM ET [4 Comments]
Scoop Cooper
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Once again cancer has taken away another good hockey person far far too young as former Flyer defenseman Greg "Bird Dog" Smyth passed away in Newfoundland at just 51. For me he becomes the 15th hockey friend of mine to pass in the last two years the majority of whom have been taken by cancer and most also younger than I am with Smyth being 21 years my junior.

A second round draft pick of the Flyers in 1984, the 6'4" blueliner was one of the most colorful players to ever don orange and black. In his one season with the Flyers, he collected 192 PIMs in just 47 games as well as the first of the four goals in his 228 game NHL career with seven teams in which he also compiled a total of 783 PIMs.

Gres Smyth laying out Washington Capitals captain Dale Hunter

I have three distinct memories of Bird Dog. The first came while he was still playing junior hockey with the London Knights and I called his coach, Don Boyd, to ask him how Smyth was doing for a piece I was writing for the Flyers program. "It's hard to say," Boyd responded matter of factly. "He's suspended a lot."

When playing for the AHL Hershey Bears in 1986-87 Smyth walked by me in the hallway outside the Bears' lockerroom before a game with his face streaked with brown stripes like an Indian warrior. "I just want to look extra mean," he told me.

When he played with the Flyers in 1987-88 he often rode to the Spectrum with Flyers captain Dave Poulin from New Jersey were most of the players lived. As they passed through the toll booth for the Walt Whitman Bridge Poulin would just call out to the toll taker "Philadelphia Flyers" and proceed. "Flyers players cross for free," Poulin told the young rookie. "It's a perk we get." So the first time Smyth drove over the bridge by himself he casually called out "Philadelphia Flyers" to the toll taker and took off only to be pulled over a short time later for not paying the toll. It was not free for Flyers, of course. Poulin had a "toll paid" sticker (predecessor of EZ Pass) on his side window. Rookies had to learn!

RIP Bird Dog
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