Hometown/Current City: Ottawa, Ont.
Education: Life After Hockey Program, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Conn., 2003
Doug’s Story: Unlike most high school students, Doug’s career path was already clear upon graduation; he was a first-round draft pick for the Los Angeles Kings. After a serious road accident and shoulder injury in 1988, the NHL superstar managed a comeback and several more years of professional hockey. A broken neck and spinal cord injury in 1992 forced Doug to retire his stick, but nothing could make him retire his spirit. He spent his recovery thinking about next steps and equipping himself with the knowledge he needed to succeed. Today, he’s an accomplished business-owner, entrepreneur and author, leading and inspiring others around the world.
Doug Smith Connected
Doug’s Career Path
Pursue Your Goals
Doug Smith is a sports prodigy. He was a competitive golfer by age 13. While still in high school, he was ranked in Canada’s top 10 for lacrosse, was an accomplished tennis player and played for three fastball teams. He was also a gifted hockey player, generating international interest while in the Ontario Hockey League. When Doug graduated from Bell High School in 1981—as the recipient of the prestigious Bobby Smith Trophy for outstanding play and academic excellence—he was drafted to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round and second overall. Doug had entertained the idea of a more formal career path; he’d applied to various universities and had many response letters waiting. But, he says, “I didn’t even open them. The money (the Los Angeles Kings offered) was just too good.” So he closed his books for the time being, and took off at full speed to pursue his dream of playing in the NHL.
Persevere Against All Odds
Doug quickly established a solid reputation in the NHL. He was a standout for the Los Angeles Kings, and became a household name in Buffalo when he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres to play for the great Scotty Bowman in 1986. Tragically, Doug was in a head-on collision with a Pontiac in May 1988 that broke his scapula in half and led doctors to proclaim he would never play professional hockey again. “I was 172 pounds when they took the cast off and allowed me to start lifting weights in August 1988,” says Doug. By the end of that same month, “I was 197 pounds of muscle.” Because of the off-ice injury, he was forced into medical arbitration with the Buffalo Sabres. After winning medical arbitration against Buffalo, Doug was picked up by Glen Sather and signed on to the Edmonton Oilers to start the season just one month after Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles. Starting at centre ice for the Oilers in 1988, Doug scored the team’s first goal of the season in a 5-2 win.
Go Back to the Basics
Despite being told he would never play again, Doug managed nearly four more years of professional hockey, in the NHL as well as in Europe. But in 1992, on the ice this time, he suffered another head-on collision, this time with the end boards during a hockey game. Going at full speed on a fore-check, Doug slammed into the boards, shattering his neck in more than 100 places. He spent the next two days fighting for his life, and then, once his vitals stabilized, he spent the next year in and out of hospitals and in surgery, rebuilding himself from the inside out. During that year—a time he refers to as “the road”—Doug reassessed his goals and figured out what really mattered to him. “You have to get totally focused on what you’re trying to accomplish, and understand what the real need is,” he says. And his need at that time? Walking again.
Push Yourself to Take Risks
Facing the prospect of being paralyzed for life, Doug drew on the same strength that got him back on the ice in 1988. “I just kept taking chances,” he says. “I did things (the doctors) told me not to do.” By pushing the boundaries, Doug got back on his feet—and then some. While in the hospital, he put together a proposal for a passion, the Ottawa Senators Alumni Association, and launched the organization as the Ottawa Senators began. Today, he skates—with no referees and no hitting but with a freedom which lets him appreciate the game more than ever.
Redefine Your Path to Success
The Ottawa Senators Alumni Association isn’t the only thing Doug worked on during his hospital stay. “I had a lot of time to reflect,” he says. Doug began thinking about why he had been so effective in the NHL and what it was that made it possible for him to defy medical odds. He began thinking about what success meant to him, and what tools he would need to expand into other fields when—not if—he recovered. Doug became one with his computer, and taught himself the fundamentals of business strategy. When he left the hospital and was back on his own two feet, Doug began pursuing a career in business and IT, first with the company that went on to become Internic.ca, then with Linuxcare Inc. out of San Francisco. In 2003, Doug became one of the first graduates of the NHL Alumni Corporation’s Quinnipiac University’s Life After Hockey Program, which included a special focus on communications and business development. That same year, Doug co-founded Arc Stainless Inc., a venture that began in his garage and went on to become a leader in stainless steel medical and architectural products. Today, the company boasts a 10,000-square-foot production facility, 25 employees and such clients as The Ottawa Hospital General Campus and other national and international clients.
Inspire Others to Succeed
By 2006, Doug was President of Arc Stainless Inc.. But he wasn’t content to rest on his laurels. The time he’d spent in hospital had redefined more than his body; it enabled him to discover who he truly was and what he wanted to share with the world. In late 2008, Doug launched DSE Network Inc. (DSE) and shortly after that launched Doug Smith Connected, which would be Doug’s public persona and a home for the distribution of knowledge-based solutions. Now, with success spanning three industries and having experienced some of the highest levels of transitional pain sustainable, Doug prides himself on working collaboratively with the brightest academic minds in the country to teach individuals and organizations how to adapt successfully.
Doug is the author of “Thriving in Transition.” He is an advocate of continuous learning, whether on the battlefield or off. “Success is all about deciding to do something, believing you can pull it off and beginning right now.” A much-sought-after speaker, Doug resides in Ottawa, on the banks of the Ottawa River, where he grew up, with his wife, Patti, daughters Jenna and Jamie, and their Portuguese water dog, aptly named Loca. “I was told I would be paralyzed for life. Now I teach others to look beyond the seemingly inevitable.”
You can reach Doug at 613-832-7782 or by e-mail at email@example.com
“You’re either moving forward or you’re moving backward.”