Denis Smith played midget hockey for the Edmonton Canadians in the late 1940s. He was a sometime left winger, though he also played on defence. Later, when he captained the Oxford University Blues, his nickname was Smoothy.
As a Canadian in Edmonton, he was property of the Montreal Canadiens. That’s how it worked in those years. You signed a C form, entailing your rights to whichever NHL club your team had its affiliation.
I think this must be what we’re talking about, more or less, with Justice Marc Nadon, the government’s new nominee for the Supreme Court who told a parliamentary committee yesterday that he was “drafted” by the Detroit Red Wings in the early 1960s. It’s a different era: C forms had been phased out by then. But as Lloyd Davis from the estimable Society for International Hockey Research points out, the Junior A St. Jérôme Alouettes and its midget affiliates were sponsored by Detroit through the Red Wings’ AHL farm team in Pittsburgh. Which means that if Nadon had decided to pursue his hockey dreams, he would have done so in the Red Wings’ system.
Denis Smith, who’s my dad, thought he’d like to play for another local team, the Edmonton Athletic Club, but to make the switch, he would have had to sit out a season. He wasn’t quite ready to do that until 1948 when his Canadians fell out of the running for the playoffs with a few games still remaining in the regular season. The team’s management decided that that was it, they wouldn’t play those last games, done and done. “They took our uniforms back,” my dad was saying today. “That’s when I decided I wasn’t going to play for the Montreal Canadiens.”