Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
New York Islanders
|New York Islanders|
|Home ice||Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum|
|Colours||Dark blue, orange|
|League||National Hockey League|
|Head coach||Steve Stirling|
|General manager||Mike Milbury|
|Owner||Charles Wang and Sanjay Kumar|
- 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))
When Long Island was awarded an NHL franchise to begin play in 1972, they were instantly resented by the long-established New York Rangers. In addition to paying a hefty expansion fee, they also had to pay the Rangers for encroaching on "their" territory. The Rangers have been the Islanders' biggest rivals ever since.
In the first season for professional hockey on Long Island, the expansion Islanders 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, 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 defenseman Denis Potvin and forwards Clark Gillies, Billy Harris and Bob Nystrom, 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 12 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 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 brides-maid, 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, 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 popular 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 made the 2002 playoffs before bowing out to a physical Maple Leafs team in the first round 4-3. They also lost a first-round series to the Ottawa Senators and 2004 Stanley Cup Chamption Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 each of the next two years.
Players of Note
- Mike Bossy (inducted 1991)
- Denis Potvin (inducted 1991)
- Billy Smith (inducted 1993)
- Bryan Trottier (inducted 1997)
- Clark Gillies (inducted 2002)
- Pat LaFontaine (inducted 2003)
Not to be forgotten:
- 5 Denis Potvin
- 9 Clark Gillies
- 19 Bryan Trottier
- 22 Mike Bossy
- 23 Bob Nystrom
- 31 Billy Smith
- 99 Wayne Gretzky (retired league-wide by the NHL)
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