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Islanders' Brooklyn Move Stirs Memories of Philadelphia Flyers' Stanley Cup Defeat: Fan's Take

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Islanders' Brooklyn Move Stirs Memories of Philadelphia Flyers' Stanley Cup Defeat: Fan's Take
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Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final was played in New York at the Coliseum.

New York Islanders' owner Charles Wang and National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman jointly announced that that the team will be moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York at the start of the 2015-16 season. Islanders' fans must be hoping that they will see their first post-lockout home game long before October 2015.

All long-time Philadelphia Flyers' fans know that whenever the Islanders are in the news, memories of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final are sometimes resurrected.

Alternative hockey realities

It's impossible to count how many times family members, friends and I have lamented the lost opportunity to play a seventh Cup game in May 1980.

Some loyalists will argue that Denis Potvin's early goal, which knotted Game 6 at 1-1, came off a high stick. But, that point is barely remembered after some digital memory potion has been accessed.

Linseman Leon Stickle's subsequent and infamous blown call then enabled Butch Goring to accept an offside pass from Clark Gillies and then move the puck to Duane Suter. Suter's shot cleanly beat Flyers' goalie Pete Peters over his left shoulder, which gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead. After the Islanders had taken 4-2 lead, the Flyers came back to tie the game and force it into overtime.

So, it can never be argued that Stickle's call directly handed the Cup to the Islanders. If that play had occurred in overtime, or if it had come during a decisive seventh game, this old grudge would be much stronger.

But, John Tonelli fed Bob Nystrom who beat Peters on a clean backhanded poke into the net in overtime. His goal instantly made the Islanders the rightful owners of the Stanley Cup. Case closed.

Balanced perspective

Looking back at the video over thirty years later and thinking about how head coach Al Arbour led all of those great Islanders' players to four consecutive Stanley Cups (the first of which came in that 1979-80 season) brings perspective.

After everyone casts aside their painful emotions, it can't be logically argued that the Flyers were "robbed". It's fair to say that they may have been denied a chance to play a seventh game.

Honest orange and black fans don't know how Game 6 would have played out if one, or both, of those disputed goals never happened. There's also no way to know what would have then taken place in Game 7.

Lord Stanley's view

Now that the fans of every team have been forced to move to the state of "Hockey Limbo" there's plenty of time to reflect, drop our natural in-season defenses and look to the future.

Who knows, maybe a future Flyers' playoff run will include a stop in Brooklyn. I guess only Lord Stanley knows for sure.

Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He was a freelance sports writer for five years in the 1990s and is currently a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo Contributor Network! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.

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