In 1968, Rick Smith was selected as a second-team all-star while playing defense for the Hamilton Red Wings of the OHA. The Boston Bruins liked what they saw and selected him 6th overall in the 1966 Amateur Draft.
He joined the Bruins in 1968-69, making a solid contribution to the team's efforts to secure Lord Stanley in 1970. By then, Smith had established himself as a solid, steady rearguard who always attended to the homework of his own zone.
Early in 1972, he was dealt to the California Golden Seals where he played for two season before jumping to the rival WHA for three years with the Minnesota Fighting Saints.
He then jumped back to the NHL midway through the 1975-76 campaign by signing with the St. Louis Blues. After a short stay, the Bruins reacquired Smith in 1976. There he remained a key member of the Bruin clubs that consistently finished at the top of the standings. In 1980, however, he was claimed on waivers by Detroit, splitting his final season of pro hockey between the Wings and the Washington Capitals.