As a hockey player, he was never much of a skater, but fast-forward 20 years, and —after a career as a police officer ensued — ‘Doug the Thug’ is back.
Part two of a cinematic tale based on the very brief hockey career of Halifax resident and Hanson Police Officer Doug Smith is once again highlighted on the big screen. The sequel “Goon: The Last of the Enforcers” was released last month and is playing locally.
Smith, taking the extra attention in stride is unassuming as he recently arrived at the Halifax HOPS playground to do an interview with the Express.
In dad mode with his two daughters; Vanessa, 9, and Victoria, 7, in tow, the six-foot-two Smith has a genuine smile and down-to-earth manner. Wearing golf attire and a Scally cap he stepped out of his dated mini-van. He is passionate but not boastful about his film career, which began after best friend Adam Frattasio also a Hanover native (Frattasio was inducted in the Hanover High School Hall of Fame) convinced him to learn to skate at age 20, combining his fighting skills to become an enforcer on ice. Smith was a graduate of Hanover High Class of 1982.
Frattasio and Smith co-wrote the book, “Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey.”
“I barely had any skating abilities but I practiced every day,” Smith recalled of his ice hockey career. “I was watching friends ice skate from the sidelines for years.”
In his early 20s, just three years later, he was playing professionally as an insurance policy — protecting his teammates and showing up to fight.
The first movie, based loosely on his book, is embellished but Smith recalled the 1988 game in the East Coast Hockey League when a reporter from the Erie, Pa. Times nicknamed him “Doug the Thug.”
Smith still has the article.
After a teammate sustained a cheap shot in the Pennsylvania, Smith incited a bench clearing brawl. The next morning at their hotel the team read the Times’ screaming headlines from the game and the nickname stuck.
Smith is in the motorcycle unit — an enforcer of a different kind — as a Hanson police officer for nearly two decades. He is finding a bit of Hollywood sparkle running through his small town roots.
“I love going to work,” he said. “I work in a small town where the people are great, and my fellow officers are supportive. This was something I was able to share with them.”
He recently held a red carpet event and private viewing at the Patriot Cinema in Hanover following a spread hosted by Greg Simeone of the Harmon Golf Club, a former hockey colleague.
Smith’s first semiprofessional camp was in Winston –Salem, N.C., however the fictitious team’s character Doug Glatt plays for are set in Canada, which is where most of the cast, crew, and directors are from. He and Frattasio traveled to Toronto to film a couple cameo scenes this past year.
Impressed with the nature of the Hollywood set and all the behind-the-scenes happenings that go into making a movie, Smith called the actors “regular Joes.”
“They wanted to talk about my life as a police officer,” he said. “They asked me about the show ‘Cops.’ They were down to earth. We talked about hockey. The whole experience was cool to be involved.”
Actor Seann William Scott most notably known as Stifler in the “American Pie” series takes the lovable, and sometimes dim-witted character of Doug Glatt on a less than triumphant career path, which deemed him “second best” for success in his family. Scott reprised his role and continues to fight and meet life’s challenges as a character with his heart in the right place.
In “Goon,” Glatt is portrayed as having shown up on the ice in white women’s figure skates to hockey tryouts. The Express had to know.
“Never happened,” said Smith laughing. “The only time I would have to deal with figure skates is if I am helping my daughters and at that I’d be tying them, not wearing them.”
Smith’s career spanned six teams in four different leagues and he was cut from Cincinnati at the end of his single season, dressed for skating when needed only as a fighter on the ice. His stats were 60 games and he logged 442 minutes in the penalty box for fighting.
When he thinks back over his career he still sees the impossible odds against his success.
“I am the same. I played lousy in 60 games and all this came of it,” he said. “I like to remain low-key and humble. People will ask me about it (the movies) and I‘ll talk with them, but it was a tough job. It was mentally stressful to know you had to fight in that atmosphere (on skates) and not fall over… they show Glatt unstable on skates …I was. I’m 6’’2 and I was fighting 6”6 guys. I wondered… could I hold my own. I survived. I did well,” he said.
As he looks ahead in life and his career, Smith who is celebrating 11 years together with his wife Sharon, holds a passion for the Hanover Boys Club where he learned to box. He took his career in his mid-teens to amateur level fighting in the Golden Glove competitions. He remains involved as the manager and a member of the board. The Boys Club celebrates its 40th year in Hanover this year. He continues to fundraise for them.