Smail was phenomenally quick, probably the quickest skater during the 1980s. He was a very intelligent skater as well, as he often would skate at less than full board in order to throw off his check. This unpredictability led to a lengthy career as a penalty killer and defensive left winger.
Smail joined the Winnipeg Jets as a free agent in 1980 after playing three seasons with the University of North Dakota where he was quite the athlete. In his final season of college hockey he scored 43 goals in 40 games while leading his team to the NCAA Championship. Smail was named as the NCAA Championship tournament's MVP.
The Moose Jaw native played in parts of 11 seasons with the Jets. He didn't possess the puck skills to match his foot skills to be much of an offensive contributor, but he did set a career high 31 goals and 66 points in 1984-85. He reached the 20 goal plateau 3 other times while with the Jets, including the 1989-90 season when he represented the Jets as their player in the NHL All Star Game.
Smail was traded to Minnesota in exchange for a prospect named Don Barber early in the 1990-91 season. By the summer he was traded to Quebec and he spent one final NHL season with the expansion Ottawa Senators in 1992-93.
Smail finished his career by playing in Britain.