(This month, Puck Daddy asked bloggers for every NHL team to tell us The Essentials for their franchises — everything from the defining player and trade, to the indispensable fan traditions. First up: Gary Harding and the staff from Eyes on Isles bring us their essentials for the New York Islanders.)
By Gary Harding, Eyes on Isles
Player: Mike Bossy
There have been so many players that received the ultimate honor of the Hall of Fame -- Bryan Trottier, Billy Smith, Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies. But to us, Bossy was the one. He averaged 50 goals a season (NO ONE WILL EVER REACH THAT FEAT) for his career; and if his aching back did not get the best of him, could have given The Great One a run for his money for the goal scoring titles.
Season: 1992-1993 (This may not be a popular choice, but …)
Winning four straight cups was outstanding, nineteen straight playoff series victories (ANOTHER RECORD THAT WILL NEVER BE BROKEN), but for me the expectations of 1993 were not necessarily visible, until the last few weeks of the season, when the team just amazingly jelled together. Then came the three overtime victories against the Caps, then the big win in Game 6 that saw Dale Hunter lay a nasty hit on Pierre Turgeon. Then the dramatic victory against the Stanley Cup Champ Pittsburgh Penguins. Darius Kasparitis making Mario Lemieux his little '[expletive]'. Then the pass from Ray Ferraro to David Volek to 'seal the deal'.
This series meant a lot to me (my relationship with my wife began that year), and I enjoyed those two months in 1993 as much as the Cup victories.
Game: April 11, 1975 and May 24, 1980 (tie)
Each of the four of us had a different game, but I am going with April 11, 1975. It only took just 11 seconds in overtime, but J.P. Parise, fresh off a trade from Minnesota, receives a pass from his former North Stars teammate Jude Drouin to stun the Rangers and take their first ever playoff series. The Isles would go on to do the unthinkable that next series against Pittsburgh and win the series after being down three games to none. They almost did it again in the next round against the eventual Cup champ Flyers, but lost in Game 7.
This game told the NHL that you were now going to have to deal with the young Islanders, and they soon after showed what they were really made of.
At 7:11 of overtime on May 24, 1980, this was simply the goal that officially put the Islanders on the map as champions.
For those who are not sure what I mean: Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. After the Flyers tied it up in the third period, Lorne Henning gets the puck to John Tonelli (offside?!). Tonelli gets the puck to Bob Nystrom, who slipped the puck past Pete Peeters, to give Long Island its first of four Championships.
Trade: Butch Goring from Los Angeles for Billy Harris and Dave Lewis
The final piece to the Islanders puzzle. Goring became the glue that made the Islanders champions.
Unsung Hero: Bobby Bourne
The Isles had their share of heroes, but the consensus pick goes to Bobby Bourne. His speed and ability to score the big "shorty" are attributes that got him in the Islanders Hall of Fame. He was such an important member of the Cup-winning teams, but did not seem to get the articles and highlights that he truly deserved.
Franchise Villain: Dale Hunter
No brainer here, Dale Hunter for his unnecessary brutal hit on Pierre Turgeon after he gave the Islanders the series victory. The NHL gave Hunter a 21 game suspension, then the longest one to date. Any Islander fan thinks he should have had more.
Fight: Clark Gillies vs. Terry O'Reilly.
Any matches between these two foes were fantastic.
Coach: Al Arbour
His 1,499 (oops, 1,500) games, 739 (oops, 740) victories. Four Stanley Cups. Enough said. (And NO — NO ONE had any votes for Mike Milbury; and no for Terry Simpson either)
Broadcaster: Jiggs McDonald
He is a Hall of Fame broadcaster, and his smooth, classy calls of games were just brilliant. He also had such a great rapport with Ed Westfall, and they always brought a smile during the call of a game.
Arena Tradition: The Chicken Dance
This was a tough one to come up with. Not a lot of tradition at the old barn. But whether the Islanders were playing the Rangers, or the Calgary Flames, whenever there was a break in the action, there was always this little song…
Arena Food: 1990 popcorn
We are talking about the Nassau Coliseum. The food options are limited, and frankly not so good. However, I remember years ago that GOAL magazine said that the Coliseum had the best popcorn in the NHL. Yes, this was in 1990. And now — they make it in the bowels on the building and it is not always fresh. Let's just leave it at that.
Swag: The Original Jersey
The Fisherman jersey does not take the top of the list. Some think that jersey in 1995-1996 was the worst uniform EVER. The original colors are just right.