New York Islanders

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New York Islanders
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New York Islanders

Founded 1972
Home ice Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Based in Uniondale
Colours Dark blue, orange
League National Hockey League
Head coach Steve Stirling
General manager Mike Milbury
Owner Charles Wong and Sanjay Kumar

The New York Islanders are a National Hockey League team based in Uniondale, New York.

Founded: 1972-1973
Arena: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (capacity 16,297)
Uniform colors: dark blue, light blue, orange, white, silver
Logo design: a circle with "NY", with the base of the "Y" forming a stylized hockey stick, a map of Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties only), and the word "ISLANDERS"
Stanley Cup wins: 4 - 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983
Stanley Cup final appearances: 5 (4 wins, 1 loss: 1979-1980 (won), 1980-1981 (won), 1981-1982 (won), 1982-1983 (won), 1983-1984 (lost))

Franchise history

With the impending start of the World Hockey Association in the fall of 1972, the upstart league had plans to place a team in the new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Nassau County. The National Hockey League did not want the competition in the nation's largest metro area, so despite having expanded a mere two years before, the NHL hastily awarded franchises to Atlanta and Long Island. The fledgling Islanders had an extra burden to pay in the form of a $4 million territorial fee to the nearby New York Rangers. The Rangers have been the Islanders' biggest rivals ever since.

While the Islanders secured veteran forward Ed Westfall from the Boston Bruins, junior league star Billy Harris, and a few other respectable players, several other draftees jumped to the WHA. Consequently, the expansion Islanders in their first season were one of the worst teams in NHL history – winning only 12 games and tying 6, while losing 60.

The following season, the team hired Al Arbour as head coach, acquired gritty forward Bob Nystrom and future superstar defenseman Denis Potvin, and promoted goaltender Billy Smith from the AHL champion Springfield Kings, and it wasn't long before the franchise turned around. After one more season without making the playoffs, the Islanders became one of the league's most successful franchises over the next 14 seasons.

After making the playoffs for the first time in 1975, the Islanders, led by Potvin, forwards Harris, Nystrom, Clark Gillies, and goaltenders Smith and Glenn Resch, stunned the rival New York Rangers in a best-of-3 first-round series. The Islanders won the series in the third game as Jean-Paul Parise scored just twelve seconds into the extra session. In a further harbinger of things to come for the franchise, the next round, against the Pittsburgh Penguins, turned out to be an even bigger surprise. Down three games to none in the best-of-7 series, the Islanders rallied to win the next four - only one of three times that has happened in any of the major North American professional sports (along with the 1941-42 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 2004 Boston Red Sox). It almost happened a second time in the same season, in the semi-finals against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders rallied from another 3-0 deficit to tie it at three games apiece, but the Flyers took the deciding seventh game and went on to win the Stanley Cup.

The following two seasons, the Islanders went just as far (though not in as miraculous a fashion), losing both times in the semi-finals to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens. In 1978, they were upset in the second round in overtime of game 7 by the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 1978-1979, Bryan Trottier led the league in point scoring, and second-year man Mike Bossy scored 69 goals, which also led the league. Despite the offensive power, they lost the semi-finals to the hated New York Rangers that year. Suddenly, there were whispers that the Islanders would always be the bridesmaid, never the bride.

In 1980, the Islanders finally broke through and won the Stanley Cup. Trottier and Bossy once again provided a 1-2 punch on offense, and Harris was traded for the key star Butch Goring, but it was Bob Nystrom that proved to be the hero, scoring in overtime in the sixth game of the Stanley Cup Finals to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers.

Bossy scored 50 goals in 50 games in 1981, as the Islanders were the top team of the regular season and won their second Stanley Cup, knocking off the Minnesota North Stars in five games. The Islanders dominated the 1981-1982 season as well, at one point winning a then-record 14 straight games. They won both the regular-season title and the Stanley Cup, this time over the Vancouver Canucks in a four-game sweep. The following season, the Islanders swept the Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers to win their fourth straight – and last &ndsash; Stanley Cup, also in a sweep.

The Islanders almost made it five straight, winning a record 19 consecutive playoff matches along the way, but they lost in five games to the Oilers in the 1984 finals. Only once since have the Islanders made it out of the second round of the playoffs.

By the late 1980s, Bossy and Potvin – along with Hall of Fame coach Al Arbour – retired, and an aging Trottier was plagued by injuries. In 1989, the Islanders missed the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.

The Islanders re-stocked in the early 1990s, adding players like Pierre Turgeon, Derek King, Ray Ferraro, Steve Thomas and Benoit Hogue. With Arbour temporarily coming out of retirement, the team hit paydirt in 1993, climbing out of the cellar and making it to the Wales Conference final, (despite losing Turgeon for much of the playoffs after a vicious hit by Washington Capitals enforcer Dale Hunter in the first round.) They defeated heavy favorites and defending Stanley Cup champions, the Mario Lemieux-led Pittsburgh Penguins, when David Volek scored in overtime of the deciding seventh game, before bowing out to the eventual champion Canadiens in five games.

Their glory was short-lived. By 1996, Turgeon ended up in Montreal, Hogue in Toronto, Ferraro with the cross-town Rangers, and King's performance dropped off. The Islanders missed the playoffs each year between 1995 and 2001. Kirk Muller, whom the Islanders acquired in exchange for Turgeon, refused to play for a team that wasn't a contender. He refused to report to the team several times, and only played 27 games for the team before being traded to Toronto. The team's attempt at updating their look resulted in the unveiling of the unpopular "Fisherman" logo in 1995; after less than two years the team's original logo was brought back.

During their lean years, the Isles' humiliation was hardly limited to their on-ice product. Dallas businessman John Spano purchased the team in 1996, but within a year it was revealed that he defrauded the team, the NHL, and his investors. His financial statements, which were used to gain the league's permission for his purchase of the team, were almost entirely fraudulent. The team reverted to original owner John Pickett, and Spano went to jail. Pickett them sold the team to a group that included Howard Milstein and Steve Gluckstern. Initially the team made numerous trades in an effort to create a better team, trading such popular young players as Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan McCabe, but this group eventually ran the team on an austerity budget in an attempt to make a profit. Milstein repeatedly cried poverty while claiming that he couldn't, or perhaps simply wouldn't, invest more money in the Islanders' payroll, all while coming up with hundreds of millions of dollars in aborted attempts to purchase the NFL's Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns. Eventually, under Milstein and Gluckstern, popular players who made more than $1M US – Zigmund Palffy, Trevor Linden, Bryan Berard, and enforcer Rich Pilon – were all traded or released. In 2000, Milstein and Gluckstern sold the team to Computer Associates executives Charles Wang and Sanjay Kumar.

With the ownership situation stabilized, fortunes began to improve. In time for the 2001-2002 season, the Islanders acquired Alexei Yashin from the Ottawa Senators, goalie Chris Osgood from the Detroit Red Wings and Michael Peca from the Buffalo Sabres. The Islanders opened the season on a tear, going 11-1-1-1, and easily made the 2002 playoffs before bowing out to the Maple Leafs in a very physical first round series, 4-3. They also lost a first-round series to the Ottawa Senators and 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 each of the next two years.

Players of Note

Hall of Famers:

Current stars:

Not to be forgotten:

Retired Numbers:

External Links

National Hockey League
Current Teams : Anaheim | Atlanta | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit | Edmonton | Florida | Los Angeles | Minnesota | Montreal | Nashville | New Jersey | NY Islanders | NY Rangers | Ottawa | Philadelphia | Phoenix | Pittsburgh | San Jose | St. Louis | Tampa Bay | Toronto | Vancouver | Washington
Trophies and Awards: Stanley Cup | Prince of Wales | Clarence S. Campbell | Presidents' Trophy | Art Ross | Bill Masterton | Calder | Conn Smythe | Hart | Norris | King Clancy | Lady Byng | Lester B. Pearson Award | Rocket Richard | Plus/Minus | Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award | Jennings | Vezina
Related Articles: AHL | ECHL | WHA | World Cup

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