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Al Arbour

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Al Arbour
Position Defenceman
Shot Left
6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
180 lb (82 kg)
Teams Detroit Red Wings
Chicago Black Hawks
Toronto Maple Leafs
St. Louis Blues
Nationality Flag of Canada Canadian
Born November 1 1932 (1932-11-01) (age 83),
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Pro Career 1949 – 1971
Hall of Fame, 1996

Alger Joseph Arbour (born November 1, 1932 in Sudbury, Ontario) is a retired Canadian player and later a coach and executive in the National Hockey League.

Playing careerEdit

Arbour started his playing career in 1954 with the Detroit Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup. He later skated for the Chicago Black Hawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and St. Louis Blues. Arbour also won the Stanley Cup as a player in 1960–61 Chicago Black Hawks and the 1961–62 and 1963–64 Toronto Maple Leafs[1]. Arbour, along with teammate Ed Litzenberger, is one of eleven players to win consecutive Stanley Cups with two different teams.[2]. Arbour was the also the first Captain of expansion St. Louis when they lost in finals in 1968, 1969, 1970 (all in 4 straight games) One of the few professional athletes to wear eyeglasses when competing. Arbour was the last NHL player to wear them on the ice.[3]


Arbour began his coaching career with St. Louis in 1970, taking over as coach after playing for the Blues for parts of four seasons. Following two additional seasons with St. Louis, he was recruited by GM Bill Torrey to take over a young New York Islanders team that had set a then-NHL record for futility by winning only 12 games in their inaugural season, 1972–73.

New York Islanders, 1973–1986Edit

In his first season as Isles coach, Arbour taught his young squad how to play defence. While they finished last in the league for the second year in a row, they gave up 100 fewer goals and earned 56 points, up from 30 the year before. New York Rangers defenceman Brad Park said after the Islanders beat their crosstown rivals for the first time, "They have a system. They look like a hockey team." Arbour's coaching laid the groundwork for future success.

The 1974–75 Islanders, on the back of talent additions and Arbour's coaching, finished third in their division with 88 points, which qualified them for the playoffs, where they defeated the heavily-favored Rangers in overtime of the deciding third game of their first round series. In the next round the Isles found themselves down three games to none in a best of seven quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Prior to game four, Arbour challenged his team: he told them that anyone who didn't believe that the Islanders could come back and win the series should pack their gear and never return. The Islanders rebounded with three straight victories to tie the series and then prevailed in Game 7 by a score of 1–0. It was only the second time in major sports history, and the first since 1942, that a team won a series after trailing 3–0. Since then, only the 2004 Boston Red Sox have matched the feat. The Isles then faced the Philadelphia Flyers in the next round, again fell behind 3–0, and once again tied the series. Although the Flyers prevailed in Game 7 and went on to win the second of 2 straight Stanley Cups, the Islanders had established themselves.

The team quickly rose to the rank of contenders, then favorites, over the next four years, but they weren't able to break through and become champions. Despite achieving great regular season success, culminating in the 1978–79 campaign in which they finished with the best record in the NHL, the Islanders suffered a series of letdowns in the playoffs. In 1976 and 1977, they lost to the eventual champion Montreal Canadiens, and then suffered an upset to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1978. Then, in 1979, the rival Rangers, considered by journalists and commentators to be an inferior team, defeated Arbour's Islanders in a six game semifinal series. Arbour won the Jack Adams Award for the team's stellar regular season, but he determined that he had the wrong set of priorities in place. After the loss, he no longer placed much emphasis on the regular season finish and instead devoted his team's energy and focus to how they will perform in the playoffs.

During the 1979–1980 season, the Islanders struggled. However, following the acquisition of Butch Goring in March, the Islanders completed the regular season with a twelve-game unbeaten streak. The regular season run carried over to the playoffs and the Islanders captured their first Stanley Cup championship on May 24, 1980 by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime of game six.

Arbour and the Islanders went on capture three more consecutive Cups, a record for an American hockey club. Along the way, his team set records for consecutive regular season victories, consecutive Finals victories, and playoff series victories, cementing the team as one of the greatest dynasties not only in hockey, but professional sports. By the time the Islanders were dethroned by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1984 Stanley Cup Finals, the club had strung together nineteen consecutive playoff series victories, a professional sports record. No team in any of the four major sports has strung together four straight championships since.

Arbour retired from coaching following the 1985–86 season and accepted a position in the Islander front office.

New York Islanders, 1988–1994Edit

Following a disappointing start to the 1988–89 season, Torrey fired Terry Simpson, and Arbour returned to the bench. Most of the veterans of the dynasty had since left the team, and the Islanders missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.

Arbour had one more run deep into the playoffs in 1992–93, where he led an overmatched Islanders team past the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins and to the Prince of Wales Conference Finals. Islanders star Pierre Turgeon, who was seriously injured after Dale Hunter hit him from behind in the previous round, missed all but a few shifts of the second-round series against Pittsburgh. The Mario Lemieux-led Penguins had finished first in the regular season and seemed primed for a third straight Stanley Cup victory. Journalists gave the Islanders no chance: Jim Smith of Newsday, Long Island's hometown newspaper, predicted that without Turgeon, the defending champions would sweep the Islanders out of the playoffs in four games. Instead, Arbour's Islanders defeated Pittsburgh in overtime of the seventh game of a hard-fought series. The Islanders lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the conference finals.

Arbour retired after the 1993–94 season, having led the Islanders to a second playoff berth where they lost to the eventual champion New York Rangers. At that time Arbour had won 739 games as an Islander coach, and a banner with that number was raised to the rafters at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on January 25, 1997.

New York Islanders, 2007Edit

On November 3, 2007, Al Arbour returned, at the request of Islanders coach Ted Nolan, to coach his 1,500th game for the Islanders. Arbour said, "Ted is going to do most of the coaching, I think."[4] At age 75, he became the oldest man ever to coach a National Hockey League game.[3] The Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3–2, giving Arbour his 740th win. The 739 win banner was brought down, and replaced with one with the number 1500, representing the number of games coached. When the banner was lifted to the rafters, Arbour was joined by the entire Islanders team, his family, and Islander Alumni, including Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Pat LaFontaine, and others.

Awards and honorsEdit

He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame,

  • the New York Islanders Hall of Fame, and
  • the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame.
  • Stanley Cup Champion as a player 1954 (Detroit), 1961(Chicago), 1962, 1964(Toronto)
  • Stanley Cup Champion as Coach 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 (Head Coach NY Islanders)
  • Calder Cup Champion 1965, 1966 (with Rochester Americans)


Arbour is currently second in wins and games coached behind Scotty Bowman in NHL history. Many hockey publications rank Bowman as the best coach in hockey history and Arbour as number two. This ranking is not without controversy, however, and those who believe Arbour to be the best ever point to his work turning struggling teams into champions, while Bowman usually took over teams that were already championship contenders. Arbour's team won the final playoff matchup between the two coaches in 1993.

Coaching recordEdit

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
G W L T Pts Finish W L Win % Result
STL70–71 5021151456 - - - - -
STL71–72 4419196443rd in West47.364Semi-finalist
STL72–73 132659 - - - - -
STL Total 10742
10947.3641 Playoff Appearance
NYI73–74 78194118568th in East - - - -
NYI74–75 80332522883rd in Norris12.333Semi-Finalist
NYI75–76 804221171012nd in Patrick76.538Semi-Finalist
NYI76–77 804721121062nd in Patrick84.667Semi-Finalist
NYI77–78 804817151111st in Patrick34.429Quarter-Finalist
NYI78–79 805115141161st in Patrick96.600Semi-Finalist
NYI79–80 80392813912nd in Patrick156.714Won Stanley Cup
NYI80–81 804818141101st in Patrick153.833Won Stanley Cup
NYI81–82 805416101181st in Patrick154.789Won Stanley Cup
NYI82–83 80422612962nd in Patrick155.750Won Stanley Cup
NYI83–84 80502641041nd in Patrick1210.545Finalist
NYI84–85 80 40346863rd in Patrick46.4002nd Round
NYI85–86 80392912903rd in Patrick03.000Division Semi-Finalist
NYI88–89 5321293456th in Patrick - - - -
NYI89–90 80313811734th in Patrick14.200Division Semi-Finalist
NYI90–91 80254510606th in Patrick - - - -
NYI91–92 80343511795th in Patrick - - - -
NYI92–93 8440377873rd in Patrick99.500Conference Finalist
NYI93–94 84363612844th in Atlantic04.000Conference Quarter-Finalist
NYI07–08 11002 - - - - -
NYI Total 1,500740
1,70311476.60015 Playoff Appearances
4 Stanley Cups
Total 1,607782
1,81211883.58716 Playoff Appearances
4 Stanley Cups


  1. Diamond, D. (1992). The Official National Hockey League Stanley Cup Centennial Book, p. 266. Buffalo: Firefly Books. ISBN 1-895565-15-4
  2. - The Stanley Cup
  3. 3.0 3.1 . ISLES GIVE AL SHOT AT 1,500

External linksEdit

Preceded by
new creation
St. Louis Blues captains
Succeeded by
Red Berenson
Preceded by
Red Berenson
St. Louis Blues captains
Succeeded by
Jim Roberts
Preceded by
Scotty Bowman
Head Coaches of the St. Louis Blues
Succeeded by
Scotty Bowman
Preceded by
Bill McCreary Sr.
Head Coaches of the St. Louis Blues
Succeeded by
Jean-Guy Talbot
Preceded by
Earl Ingarfield, Sr.
Head Coaches of the New York Islanders
Succeeded by
Terry Simpson
Preceded by
Bobby Kromm
Winner of the Jack Adams Award
Succeeded by
Pat Quinn
Preceded by
Terry Simpson
Head Coaches of the New York Islanders
Succeeded by
Lorne Henning

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Al Arbour. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

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