Smith did not make the Bruins right away. He played 5 games in the 1959-60 season and a full 70 in 1960-61. After that he played only 9 games until the NHL expanded in 1967. He was toiling in places like Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco and Oklahoma City.
Once the NHL doubled in size in 1967 there became twice as many jobs in the NHL. Smith played an unheralded role with the high scoring Bruins for the next ten seasons. They would win Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972.
Smith was Orr's defensive stop-gap. He was good for around 30 points a year himself. You can imagine how most of those points came about. "Here Bobby, take the puck." Next thing you know its in the net.
Smith was also the answer to an interesting trivia question. In 1967-68 the NHL first recorded the +/- stat. With a +33, Smith was the very first season leader in this category. A few years later he would post a +94, 124. which remains the 4th highest +/- ever recorded. Orr, by the way, set the record that same season with a +124. Smith probably would have posted a higher mark himself, but on a couple dozen goals orchestrated by Orr Smith more than likely had already headed to the bench on a line change!
Smith ended up with a career +335. He also scored 55 goals, 252 assists and 307 points in 890 NHL games. He also played in four straight All-Star games from 70-71 to 73-74.
Smith retired in 1976, but after a season off he came back to the NHL. Former Bruins teammate Phil Esposito thought so highly of this underrated defender that he convinced him to come out of retirement and join him in New York to play with the Rangers.
His teammates called him ‘Half Ton’ not because of his size, but because whenever they were in a different city playing, he’d look for half-ton trucks to buy. Why? Because he needed them for his off-season job. Smith was a farmer back home Manitoba. He continued to own farmland for many years even though he eventually moved to Oregon.