Born on February 25, 1956 in Chicoutimi, Quebec, where his father, Stan was a star player, John Smrke followed his father's footsteps and became a professional hockey player. Smrke spent three years with the Toronto Marlboros where he was part of the 1975 Memorial Cup winning squad, Smrke then turned pro in 1976 with the Kansas City Blues. The following year he was in the National Hockey League.
Smrke played 18 games for St. Louis, who had drafted him in 1976. He managed two goals and six points in his first big league experience. The next year he got a longer look at the NHL level playing 55 games and upping his totals to six goals and 14 points. When the NHL absorbed four former World Hockey Association franchises in 1979 an Expansion Draft was held and Smrke was one of the players the St. Louis Blues dangled. The Quebec Nordiques claimed the left-winger and gave him a look in 1979-80.
With the Nordiques Smrke played 30 games and chipped in three goals and eight assists. The rest of that season and all of the next two Smrke spent in the minor leagues. Unable to work his way back up to the NHL, John Smrke left the game following the 1981-82 campaign.
After two years away from the game, Smrke came out of retirement and signed to play in Italy where he was an offensive force scoring 29 goals and 51 points in just 25 games. He returned to North America in 1985 and spent that season playing Senior hockey in New Brunswick with the Campbellton Tigers before retiring again in 1986.