| New York Islanders|
The New York Islanders are a professional ice hockey team based in Uniondale, New York. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Islanders began play in 1972 and rapidly developed a dominant team that won four consecutive Stanley Cup championships in the early 1980s. They play their home games at the 16,234 capacity Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island.
1972–74: The NHL comes to Long IslandEdit
With the impending start of the World Hockey Association (WHA) in the fall of 1972, the upstart league had plans to place its New York team in the brand-new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Nassau County. However, Nassau County officials did not consider the WHA a major league and wanted nothing to do with the upstart New York Raiders. The only legal way to keep the Raiders out of the Coliseum was to get an NHL team to play there, so William Shea, who had helped bring the New York Mets to the area a decade earlier, was pressed into service once again. Shea found a receptive ear in NHL president Clarence Campbell, though the New York Rangers did not want the additional competition in the New York area. So, despite having expanded to 14 teams just two years before, the NHL hastily awarded a Long Island-based franchise to clothing manufacturer Roy Boe, owner of the American Basketball Association's New York Nets. A second expansion franchise was awarded to Atlanta (the Flames) at the same time to balance the schedule.
The new team was widely expected to take the Long Island Ducks name used by an Eastern Hockey League franchise; the more geographically expansive "New York Islanders" came largely as a surprise. The fledgling Islanders, who were soon nicknamed the Isles by the local newspapers, had an extra burden to pay in the form of a $4 million territorial fee to the nearby New York Rangers. The arrival of the Islanders effectively doomed the Raiders; they were forced to play in Madison Square Garden under onerous lease terms and were forced out of town in the middle of their second season.
While the Islanders secured veteran forward Ed Westfall from the Boston Bruins in the 1972 NHL Expansion Draft, junior league star Billy Harris in the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, and a few other respectable players, several other draftees jumped to the WHA. Unlike most other expansion teams' general managers, Islanders GM Bill Torrey did not make many trades for veteran players in the early years. Rather than pursue a "win now" strategy of getting a few veterans to boost attendance (a tactic which proved disastrous for many teams in the long run), Torrey was committed to building through the draft.
In the team's first season, young players such as goaltender Billy Smith the captine (the team's second pick in the expansion draft) and forwards Bob Nystrom and Lorne Henning were given chances to prove themselves in the NHL. However, this young and inexperienced expansion team posted a record of 12–60–6, one of the worst in NHL history.
The team who finished last in 1972–73 received the right to pick first in the 1973 amateur draft and select junior superstar defenseman Denis Potvin, who had been touted "as the next Bobby Orr" when he was 13. Despite several trade offers from Montreal Canadiens GM Sam Pollock, Torrey refused to part with the pick. That same summer, Torrey made perhaps the most critical move in the history of the franchise when he convinced former St. Louis Blues coach Al Arbour to come to Long Island. Even with Potvin, who won the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL Rookie Of The Year, the team still finished last in the East in its second year. Under Arbour, the team showed signs of respectability. Although the team did not make the playoffs, they allowed 100 fewer goals than the previous season, and their 56 points represented a healthy 26-point improvement from the previous season. It turned out to be the team's last losing season for 15 years.
In 1975, the Islanders made one of the biggest turnarounds in NHL history. Led by Potvin, forwards Harris, Nystrom, Clark Gillies, and goaltenders Smith and Glenn "Chico" Resch, the Islanders earned 88 points — 32 more than the previous season, and two more than their first two seasons combined — and earned their first playoff berth. They stunned the rival New York Rangers in a best-of-3 first-round series. The Islanders won the series in the third game as J. P. Parise scored just 11 seconds into the extra session.
In the next round, an even bigger surprise occurred. Down three games to none in the best-of-seven series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders rallied to win the next four and take the series. Only two other major North American professional sports teams have accomplished this feat, the 1941–42 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 2004 Boston Red Sox. In the third round of the playoffs, the Islanders nearly did it again, rallying from another 3–0 deficit to force a seventh game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers before the Flyers took the decisive seventh game at home and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
The Islanders continued their stunning climb up the NHL standings in 1975–76, earning 101 points, the fifth-best record in the league. It was the first 100-point season in Islanders history, in only their fourth year of existence. Few teams in any sport have come so far so fast. Rookie center Bryan Trottier, who scored 95 points and won the Calder Trophy, was blossoming into a superstar. It would be the first of four consecutive 100-point seasons, including the first two division titles in franchise history.
However, regular-season success was not rewarded in the playoffs. In 1976 and 1977, the Islanders were knocked out in the semifinals by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens were 24–3 in the playoffs in those two years — all three losses to the Islanders.
In the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft, Torrey had the 15th pick and had to make a tough decision between right winger Mike Bossy and another forward. Bossy was known as a scorer who wasn't physical, while the other forward could check but wasn't very good offensively. Coach Arbour persuaded Torrey to pick Bossy, figuring it was easier to teach a scorer how to check. In the upcoming 1977-78 season, Bossy became the third Isle to win the Calder Trophy, having scored 53 goals that season, at the time the most scored by a rookie. The team was upset in the quarterfinal round in overtime of game 7 by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In 1978–79, the team finished with the best record in the NHL. Bryan Trottier was voted the league MVP and captured the scoring title, while sophomore Bossy scored 69 goals, which also led the league. Despite their regular season dominance, the Islanders exited the playoffs with a loss to the hated New York Rangers in the semifinals. Hockey professionals and journalists generally regarded the Rangers as an inferior team, which led them to question whether the Islanders were capable of winning big games in the playoffs when they really counted.
Off the ice, the Islanders were on shaky ground. Boe was losing money on both the Islanders and the Nets even as the Islanders quickly surged to NHL prominence and the Nets became an ABA power. The Islanders were still far behind on the $10 million they had paid in startup costs, and the expenses associated with moving the Nets to the NBA threw Boe's finances into a tailspin. Eventually, Boe was forced to sell both his teams. He readily found a buyer for the Nets, but had less luck finding one for the Islanders. Torrey orchestrated a sale to one of the team's limited partners, John Pickett, who made Torrey team president. Soon after buying the Islanders, Pickett signed a very lucrative cable contract with the fledgling Sportschannel network. SportsChannel's owner, Charles Dolan, thought the up-and-coming team would be a perfect centerpiece for his new network. Dolan gave Pickett a long-term guaranteed contract intended to not only keep the team on Long Island, but give area governments an incentive to renew his cable contracts. The Islanders have been on the network, now known as MSG+, for over a quarter-century.
1980–84: The dynasty yearsEdit
After the Isles' regular season dominance and playoff disappointment in 1979, Arbour decided that he would no longer concern himself too greatly with his team's finish in the regular season. Instead, he focused his team's energy on how they would perform in the playoffs. In 1980, the Islanders dropped below the 100-point mark for the first time in five years, earning only 91 points. However, they finally broke through and won the Stanley Cup.
Before the playoffs, Torrey made the difficult decision to trade longtime and popular veterans Billy Harris and defenseman Dave Lewis to the Los Angeles Kings for second line center Butch Goring. Goring's is often called the "final piece of the puzzle": a strong two-way player, his presence on the second line ensured that opponents would no longer be able to focus their defensive efforts on the Isles' first line of Bossy, Trottier and Clark Gillies. Contributions from new teammates, such as wingers Duane Sutter and Anders Kallur and stay-at-home defensemen Gord Lane and Ken Morrow (the latter fresh off a gold medal win at the 1980 Olympics), also figured prominently in the Islanders' playoff success.
In the semifinals, the Isles faced the Buffalo Sabres, who had finished second overall in the NHL standings. The Isles won the first two games in Buffalo, including a 3–2 victory in Game 2 on Bob Nystrom's goal in double overtime. They went on to win the series in six games and reach the finals for the first time in franchise history, where they would face the NHL's regular season champions, the Philadelphia Flyers, who had gone undefeated for 35 straight games (25–0–10) during the regular season. In Game 1 in Philadelphia, the Isles won 4–3 on Denis Potvin's power-play goal in overtime. Leading the series 3–2, they went home to Long Island for Game 6. In that game, Bob Nystrom continued his overtime heroics, scoring at 7:11 of the extra frame, on assists by John Tonelli and Lorne Henning, to bring Long Island its first Stanley Cup. It was the Isles' sixth overtime victory of the playoffs. Bryan Trottier won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs. Torrey's strategy of building through the draft turned out very well; nearly all of the major contributors on the 1980 champions were home-grown Islanders or had spent most of their NHL careers in the Islanders organization.
The Islanders dominated the next two seasons. Bossy scored 50 goals in 50 games in 1981 and the Islanders lost only three playoff games en route to defeating the Minnesota North Stars in five games to win the Stanley Cup. Butch Goring won the Conn Smythe Trophy. During their semifinal sweep of the Rangers, Islander fans began taunting the Rangers with a chant of "1940! 1940!" – referring to the Rangers' last Stanley Cup win in 1939–40. Fans in other NHL cities soon picked up the chant.
In 1981–82 the Islanders won a then-record 15 straight games en route to a franchise-record 118 points, while Mike Bossy set a scoring record for right wingers with 147 points in an 80 game schedule. The Islanders won the regular-season title, yet once in the playoffs, they were pushed to the maximum five games by the Pittsburgh Penguins and to six games by the Rangers. However, they finally hit their stride in the conference finals, sweeping the upstart Quebec Nordiques and won the Stanley Cup over the Vancouver Canucks in a four-game sweep. In this series, Bossy, upended by a check from Tiger Williams and falling parallel to the ice, managed to hook the puck with his stick and score. Bossy netted the Stanley Cup-winning goal and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.
The next year, although the Islanders had won three straight Stanley Cups, more attention was being paid to the upstart Edmonton Oilers, whose young superstar Wayne Gretzky had just shattered existing scoring records. The 1982–83 season was thus a battle to decide which was the best team in the NHL. The Oilers had a better regular season, but the Islanders swept them in the Stanley Cup finals to win their fourth straight championship. Billy Smith was named the Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs after shutting down the Oilers' vaunted scoring machine. Gretzky failed to score a goal during the series. The Sutter brothers, Duane and Brent, unexpectedly led all players with 7 and 5 points, respectively, while Bossy again scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal. At this point, the Islanders had won one more Cup in 11 years than the Rangers had won in 57. 
The Isles finished the 1983–84 regular season tied atop the Prince of Wales Conference while successfully defending their Patrick Division title. They won a hard fought series, nicknamed the "Battle of New York", over the Rangers in the opening round of the playoffs. It was the fourth consecutive season that the Isles had beaten the Rangers in the postseason. The Isles then defeated the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens in six games each to set up a finals rematch with the Oilers. This time, the Oilers dethroned the Islanders to win the first of what would be five Cups in seven years. For the 1984 postseason, the NHL changed the schedule for the finals, from 2–2–1–1-1 to 2–3–2. Under this format, the Islanders earned home ice advantage in the series despite finishing lower than the Oilers in the regular season, but they had to play three straight games in Edmonton, where the Oilers managed to lock up the series. Bossy said afterward that the team believed that if they could win a single away game, they would have been able to take games six and seven at home to win a fifth Stanley Cup.
Out of their two home games, the Islanders had lost game one 1–0 in what was a goaltending duel between Billy Smith and Grant Fuhr, though they roared back with a 6–1 win in game two. In Edmonton, the Oilers' offensive juggernaut buried the Islanders by scores of 7–2, 7–2 and 5–2. Bossy, who had scored 17 goals in each of the past three playoffs only scored 8 in the first three rounds of the 1984 playoffs and was silenced during the final series. Though the Islanders' bid for a record-tying fifth championship was ended, Game Five was noted for rookie Pat LaFontaine's emergence, as he scored two third period goals in 38 seconds to cut the Oilers' lead to 4–2.
During their run of four Stanley Cup championships and a fifth finals appearance, the Islanders won 19 straight playoff series, the longest streak in the history of professional sports (one more than the Boston Celtics' 1959–67). Unlike the 1976–79 Montreal Canadiens, who needed to win three series in the 1976 and 1977 playoffs under the playoff format in place at that time, the Islanders had to win four series in each of their Stanley Cup seasons.
1984–91: Post-dynasty and the Easter EpicEdit
The Isles generally remained competitive for the rest of the decade, even as some of the stars from the Cup teams departed. As the decade wore on, Pickett began to keep the money from the team's cable deal rather than reinvest it in the team as he had done in years past. Although it did not become clear immediately, the lack of funds limited Torrey's ability to replace all of the departing talent.
In the 1984–85 NHL season, the Isles slipped to third in the Patrick Division and could do no better in the 1985–86 and 1986–87 seasons. They were now facing stiff competition from their division rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals. The Flyers had eliminated the Islanders in the Patrick Division Finals in 1985 and 1987 (the Flyers went on to the Stanley Cup finals both years). These losses were sandwiched around a 1986 first-round sweep by the Capitals – the team's first exit without winning a playoff round since 1978.
In 1986, Nystrom retired and Clark Gillies was picked up on waivers by the Buffalo Sabres. Arbour retired as coach following 1985–86 and was replaced by longtime junior hockey coach Terry Simpson. Young players such as Pat LaFontaine, Patrick Flatley and Brent Sutter, who had been viewed as the future of the team, began coming into their own as players.
During the first round of the 1987 playoffs against the Capitals, the Isles had fallen behind in the series three games to one. In previous years, the Capitals would have won the series, but 1987 marked the first season that the opening round of the playoffs was a best-of-7 series, not a best-of-5 series. The Isles evened the series, which set the stage for one of the most famous games in NHL history: the "Easter Epic". Kelly Hrudey stopped 73 shots on goal while Pat LaFontaine scored at 8:47 of the fourth overtime--and at 1:56 am on Easter Sunday morning. The win came even though the Islanders had been outshot 75–52. The Islanders were beaten in seven games by the Flyers in the second round of the playoffs. Chronic back pain forced Mike Bossy to retire after the 1986–87 season.
The next year, in 1988, the Islanders captured another division title, but were upset in the first round of the playoffs by the upstart New Jersey Devils. After the playoffs, Potvin retired, holding records for most career goals (310), assists (742) and points (1052) by a defenseman (he has since been passed in these categories by Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey).
Around this time, the Islanders' run of good luck in the draft began to run out. Of their four top draft picks from 1987 to 1990, the Islanders lost one to a freak knee injury and two others never panned out.
A year after winning the division, the Islanders got off to a slow start in the 1988–89 season, winning only seven of their first 27 games. Torrey fired Simpson and brought Arbour back. Unfortunately, Arbour could not turn things around, and the Islanders finished with 61 points, tied with the Quebec Nordiques for the worst record in the league. It was the Isles' first losing season and the first time they had missed the playoffs since their second year of existence. Goalie Billy Smith, the last remaining original Islander, retired after the season to become the team's goaltending coach.
Not long after the end of the 1988–89 debacle, Pickett moved to Florida and turned over day-to-day operations over to a committee of four Long Island entrepreneurs – Ralph Palleschi, Bob Rosenthal, Stephen Walsh, and Paul Greenwood. In return, they each bought a 2.5 interest in the team.
In 1989–90, the Islanders rebounded to get back in the playoffs, but they lost to the Rangers in five games. The team bought out the remaining years of Bryan Trottier's contract; as of 2007–08 he is still the franchise leader in games played. He signed on as a free agent for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the off-season.
The next year, the team finished well out of the playoffs after winning only 25 games.
1991–95: New faces and the miracle of 1993Edit
LaFontaine, the Islanders' remaining superstar, was frustrated with the team's lack of success and the progress of his contract negotiations, and held out rather than report to camp before 1991–92. In response to the holdout, Torrey engineered a rebuilding project with two blockbuster trades on October 25, 1991. He dealt LaFontaine, Randy Wood and Randy Hillier (along with future considerations) to the Buffalo Sabres in return for Pierre Turgeon, Benoit Hogue, Uwe Krupp and Dave McLlwain. He also sent longtime captain Brent Sutter and Brad Lauer to the Chicago Blackhawks for Steve Thomas and Adam Creighton. With these additions and a talented core of players such as Derek King, Ray Ferraro and Patrick Flatley, along with incoming Soviet-bloc players Vladimir Malakhov and Darius Kasparaitis, the Islanders had a new foundation in the early '90s. However, the management committee was not nearly as patient as Boe and Pickett had been, and forced Torrey to resign after the Islanders missed the playoffs again that season. Assistant GM Don Maloney was hired in Torrey's place, while Torrey quickly resurfaced with the expansion Florida Panthers.
In Maloney's first year, 1992–93, the Islanders rebounded to make the playoffs, in the process surpassing the 80-point mark for the first time in six years. The LaFontaine-Turgeon trade proved successful for both the Islanders and Sabres, as both players hit career highs in points and Turgeon won the Lady Byng Trophy.
Ray Ferraro emerged as a playoff hero, scoring a pair of overtime winners in the first round series against the Capitals. Instead of celebrating after winning the decisive sixth game at Nassau Coliseum, however, the Islanders were both irate and despondent. Turgeon, the team's star center and leading scorer, suffered a shoulder separation when Dale Hunter checked him from behind as he celebrated a series-clinching goal. Turgeon was believed to be out for the entire second round, if not longer. He returned only for spot powerplay duty in the last game of the second round. Hunter received a then-record 21-game suspension.
The Islanders' next opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins, were twice-defending Stanley Cup champions and full of stars such as Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Ron Francis. The Penguins had roared through the regular season with 119 points, and were overwhelmingly favored to win a third straight championship. Jim Smith of Newsday, Long Island's hometown newspaper, predicted that with Turgeon on the sidelines, the Penguins would sweep the Islanders out of the playoffs. However, on the strength of outstanding goaltending from Glenn Healy and contributions from all four lines, the Islanders achieved a huge upset when David Volek scored at 5:16 of overtime of the deciding seventh game.
Newsday's front page the day following the win was a picture of Healy with a headline reading, "It's a Miracle!"
Turgeon returned to the Islanders' top line for the Wales Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens, though he was not in peak form as he had not fully recovered. The Islanders bowed out of the playoffs after a hard-fought five games, two of which went to overtime. After beating the Isles, the Canadiens went on to win the Cup.
Maloney had avoided making many personnel changes his first year, but a contract dispute with Healy led him to sign Ron Hextall, who had his best years with the rival Philadelphia Flyers. Fans grew more skeptical when, after a series of deals, Healy ended up as the backup on the Rangers. Although on paper Hextall appeared to be an upgrade, his play was inconsistent and he never endeared himself to Islanders fans.
The Islanders barely squeezed past the expansion Florida Panthers into the 1994 playoffs before being swept in a lopsided opening series by the first-place Rangers, who went on to win the Cup. Arbour retired for good as coach and was succeeded by longtime assistant Lorne Henning. Hextall, fairly or not, drew most of the criticism for the failed playoff campaign and was shipped back to Philadelphia for Tommy Soderstrom in the off-season.
In the lockout-shortened 1994–95 season, the Islanders not only failed to qualify for the playoffs, they finished ahead of only the third-year Ottawa Senators.
1995–2000: Management issuesEdit
By the end of the 1994–95 season, it became clear that Maloney had mismanaged the team. Since taking over in 1992, the only noticeable attempt he made to upgrade the roster was letting Healy go in favor of Hextall. Near the end of the failed 1995 campaign, Maloney decided that the core of players he had left alone for three seasons should be totally revamped, and he undertook a rebuilding project. He traded Turgeon and Malakhov to Montreal for Kirk Muller and Mathieu Schneider, and Hogue was sent to Toronto for young goaltender Eric Fichaud. Additionally, Maloney allowed the team's leading scorer, Ferraro, to depart as a unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season. Fans' displeasure at Maloney for trading the popular Turgeon was magnified when Muller balked at joining a rebuilding team. He only played 45 games for the Islanders before being sent to the Maple Leafs.
Before the 1995–96 season, Maloney fired Henning and named Mike Milbury head coach. The same year, the Isles' attempt at updating their look resulted in the unveiling of a logo depicting a fisherman holding a hockey stick. The logo was a marketing disaster; the reaction among the fan base was so negative that management announced it would revert back to the original logo as soon as league rules allowed them to do so. The traditional logo returned as part of 1996-97's third jersey, and then became the main jersey the following year. From time to time, Rangers fans have mocked the Isles with chants of "we wantfishsticks," a reference to the way the logo resembled the Gorton's of Gloucester fisherman. The year was a failure on the ice as well, as the Islanders finished in last place with a record of 22–50–10. During the season, team management fired Maloney, whom fans blamed for the team's downfall, and gave Milbury total control of hockey operations as both coach and general manager.
In the middle of the 1996–97 season, Milbury resigned as coach and elevated assistant Rick Bowness to the head coaching position. However, after another losing season and little improvement, Milbury took over as coach in the middle of the 1997–98 season. The team improved to fourth place in the Atlantic Division but still failed to make the playoffs. He stepped down as coach yet again in the middle of the 1998–99 season but retained his job as GM.
During their lean years, chaos within the Islanders' ownership and front office mirrored their substandard performance on the ice. Pickett sold the team to Dallas businessman John Spano in 1996. However, three months after the 1997 closing, Spano still hadn't paid Pickett the first installment on the cable deal. An investigation by Newsday revealed that Spano had deliberately misled the NHL and the Islanders about his net worth, and also had two lawsuits pending against him. When it became clear that Spano was a fraud and that he lacked the assets to purchase the team, ownership reverted to Pickett. Federal prosecutors turned up evidence that Spano had forged many of the documents used to vouch for his wealth and to promise payment to Pickett. He was sentenced to five years eleven months in prison for bank and wire fraud. The NHL was embarrassed when reports surfaced that it spent less than $1,000 (depending on the source, the league spent either $525 or $750) to check Spano's background, and subsequently stiffened the process for vetting future owners.
Pickett finally found a buyer, a group led by Howard Milstein and Phoenix Coyotes co-owner Steven Gluckstern. Even that deal almost fell through when Spectacor Management Group, which managed the Coliseum for Nassau County, tried to force Pickett to certify that the Coliseum was safe. However, Pickett refused, since the Coliseum had fallen into disrepair in recent seasons. SMG backed down under pressure from the Islanders, the NHL and Nassau County officials.
Initially the team made numerous trades and increased their payroll in an effort to assemble a better team. In one transaction, youngsters Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan McCabe were traded for veteran Trevor Linden. However, as the Islanders continued to fall short of the playoffs, the new ownership group eventually decided to run the team on an austere budget in an attempt to make a profit. They also complained about the condition of the Nassau Coliseum and made noises about moving the team elsewhere. Under Milstein and Gluckstern, the team traded or released many popular players to avoid paying their salaries, including star scorer Zigmund Palffy, team captain Linden, former rookie of the year Bryan Berard, and rugged defenseman Rich Pilon. Attendance, which had been in a steady decline over the past few years, fell off even further to under 12,000 per game. At the same time, Milstein bid hundreds of millions of dollars in unsuccessful attempts to purchase the National Football League's Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns.
2000–2006: New ownership, a return to the playoffs Edit
With stable ownership finally in place, Milbury was allowed to spend money and invest in free agents. His first attempt proved unpopular with fans, as he traded away future stars Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen to the Florida Panthers for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish. Milbury then further surprised the hockey world when he took Rick DiPietro with the first selection in the entry draft, ahead of the consensus picks Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik. Reporters and fans were alternately confused and enraged by the moves, which Milbury acknowledged, saying, "As dangerous as this may be, we think Mad Mike maybe has something going for him." The "Mad Mike" nickname has remained with Milbury ever since. Milbury said that his moves were intended to improve the team immediately, and in that respect they failed completely. The Islanders finished with the worst record in the NHL and the second-worst season in franchise history; the team's .317 winning percentage that year was only ahead of only 1972–73's .192. The team's uninspired play led Milbury to fire Isles legend Butch Goring as head coach before the end of the year. Many fans were upset that Goring and not Milbury took the fall for the lost season, and they were again upset when Milbury hired newcomer Peter Laviolette to coach the team, passing on Ted Nolan.
The team also made three key personnel acquisitions prior to the 2001–02 season. They acquired Alexei Yashin from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for the Isles' the second overall pick in the entry draft, which the Senators used to select Jason Spezza, forward Bill Muckalt and defenseman Zdeno Chara. The following day, Islanders prospects Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt were traded to the Buffalo Sabres for Michael Peca, who became the team's captain. By virtue of finishing last the year before, the Isles were also able to claim goaltender Chris Osgood with the first pick in the waiver draft, adding a former championship goaltender without giving up any players in exchange. Thanks in large part to strong play by Peca, Yashin and Osgood, the new-look Islanders opened the season on a tear, going 11–1-1–1 en route to finishing with 96 points, their best point total in 18 years, and just one point short of their first division title in 14 years. The 44-point leap was the best turnaround in franchise history, surpassing the 1974–75 unit's 32-point jump. Had they won the Atlantic Division title, they would have had home-ice advantage in the first round. Instead, they were seeded fifth, and faced the fourth-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs. The Islanders lost to the Leafs in a very physical first round series in which no road team won a game. Game 4 featured a Shawn Bates penalty shot goal with a 2:30 to play that gave the Islanders the lead and ultimately the game. In Game 5, Gary Roberts charged Islander defenseman Kenny Jonsson and Darcy Tucker submarined Peca with a questionable check that tore the Islander captain's anterior cruciate ligament. Neither Jonsson nor Peca returned in the series.
Despite the promise shown in the Toronto series, the Islanders had a slow start to the 2002–03 NHL season. They rebounded to make the playoffs but lost a five game series in the first round to the top-seeded Ottawa Senators. Milbury, known to make moves that riled the fanbase, fired Laviolette after the season, citing end season interviews with the players in which they expressed a lack of confidence in the coach. He was replaced with Steve Stirling, who had previously been coaching the team's top minor league affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In 2004, the Islanders again lost in the first round of the playoffs, this time to the eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Despite the fact that the Lightning finished first in the conference and the Islanders qualified for the playoffs as the 8th and final seed, a few journalists had picked the Islanders to win based on their strong regular season performance against Tampa Bay.
Following the 2004–05 NHL lockout, which eliminated the 2004–05 season, the Islanders made several player moves to increase offense for 2005–06. Peca was traded to Edmonton for center Mike York, freeing up room under the NHL's new salary cap. The same day, the team signed winger Miroslav Satan to play alongside Yashin. Milbury also remade the defensive corps, replacing departed free agents Adrian Aucoin and Roman Hamrlik and Jonsson, who left the NHL to play in his native Sweden, with Alexei Zhitnik, Brad Lukowich and Brent Sopel. In the aftermath, Yashin was named the team's new captain. The team played inconsistent hockey, leading to Stirling's replacement midway through the season.
2006-present: A new lookEdit
On the day he fired Stirling, Milbury also announced that he would step down as general manager once a successor was found and become senior vice president of all of Charles Wang's sports properties (Kumar had sold his interest to Wang in 2004). Milbury later resigned this post in May 2007. He said that he missed making day-to-day hockey decisions and would be open to a hockey operations job for a different team.
The offseason was characterized by a degree of tumult. Wang hired Ted Nolan as coach and Neil Smith as GM, but he fired Smith after a little over a month and replaced him with backup goaltender Garth Snow, who retired to accept the position. The Islanders also made several free agent acquisitions, including defensemen Brendan Witt and Tom Poti and forwards Mike Sillinger and Chris Simon and signed goaltender Rick DiPietro to a 15-year, 67.5 million dollar contract, among the longest in professional sports history.
Eyeing home ice advantage in the playoffs, the Isles traded for Ryan Smyth at the deadline but went on to suffer some setbacks because of injuries to DiPietro and a distracting stick swinging incident that resulted in Simon's suspension for the rest of the season. The team eventually qualified for the playoffs by capping off a late season winning steak with a shootout victory over the Devils. The Isles lost their first round matchup with the Buffalo Sabres, the NHL's best team during the regular season, in five games.
The team announced that they would buy out captain Alexei Yashin's contract in June 2007. Smyth, Viktor Kozlov, Jason Blake, Tom Poti and Richard Zednik also left in July 2007 via free agency. Days later, the Islanders signed Bill Guerin, who assumed the captaincy, to a two-year contract. Also in the offseason, free agents Mike Comrie, Andy Sutton and Jon Sim joined the team. The Isles remained in the playoff hunt through the trade deadline, but a rash of injuries saw them plummet to the fifth worst record in league by the end of the season. The injuries led to increased opportunities for young players, including Sean Bergenheim, Blake Comeau and Kyle Okposo, who had a productive 9 game stint with the Islanders to end the season.
At the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the Islanders made two trades to move down from the fifth to the ninth overall pick, with which they selected center Josh Bailey. They also added free agents Mark Streit and Doug Weight. The team fired head coach Ted Nolan later that summer and replaced him with Scott Gordon.
On March 3, 2009, the Islanders traded Captain Bill Guerin to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 5th round conditional draft pick, which can move to a 3rd round pick, depending on the Penguins playoff record. Also, shortly before the 2009 trade deadline, the Islanders traded two players, Chris Campoli and Mike Comrie, to the Ottawa Senators.
The Lighthouse ProjectEdit
The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is currently the third-oldest arena in active use by an NHL team (after Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena and Madison Square Garden), and has the smallest capacity of all arenas in the NHL. It is generally considered to be obsolete. Islanders owner Charles Wang proposed a plan to develop the area surrounding the arena; his plan included a renovation of the Coliseum, a 60-story tower designed to look like a lighthouse, housing, athletic facilities, a new minor league baseball stadium, restaurants, and a new hotel, at a projected overall cost of approximately $200 million. On August 14, 2007, Charles Wang and the Lighthouse Development Group, partnered with Rexcorp, created a new plan downsizing the entire project. The Coliseum design has totally changed, and the 60 story "Lighthouse" has evolved into two 31 story buildings connected with a footbridge at the top. Construction is not planned to begin until at least mid-2009. In February 2009, Wang, frustrated by the delays in obtaining approval from Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead for the "Lighthouse Project", said that he would be forced to consider selling the team, who can move when their lease ends in 2015 if the project falls through. Kansas City, Missouri has been mentioned as a possible candidate for relocation, as the Islanders are scheduled to play a preseason game at Kansas City's Sprint Center in September, 2009. 
The Islanders debuted in 1972 with traditional-style jerseys: either white with orange and royal blue stripes near the waistline and on the sleeves or royal blue with white and orange stripes. The design remained largely the same, save for minor tweaks, through the 1994–95 season.
Prior to the 1995–96 season, team executives decided to change the jersey. The fisherman logo replaced the "NY" circular design, and the new uniforms incorporated navy blue and a brighter orange and introduced teal and grey shades as well. The team was seeking increased merchandise revenues, with the outward justification of connecting the team more overtly to Long Island. The jersey included a lighthouse shoulder patch, a nod to the Montauk Lighthouse, and featured uneven stripes resembling an ocean wave near the waistline, on the sleeves, and across the shoulders. All of the numbering and lettering on the jerseys also followed the wave pattern. Late in the season, the team decided to do away with the fisherman logo, but league rules forbade them from switching jersey designs for the 1996–97 season on only a few months' notice. Instead, the Islanders debuted their first third jersey, which was identical to the jerseys then worn by the team except that it used the circular "NY" crest in place of the fisherman. The team wore this jersey in approximately fifteen games during the 1996–97 season and adopted it permanently for 1997–98.
Prior to the 1998–99 season, the team's new ownership reverted to the initial traditional design but kept the navy blue and bright orange from the "wave" era jersey. They added a shoulder patch of four bars, alternating in color, to represent the Islanders' four straight Stanley Cup championships. The new design also changed the borders around the numbers and "C" and "A" letters: instead of leaving no space between the orange border and the white or blue numbers, the jersey featured a raised outline. A third jersey was introduced in 2003. It was orange and had navy blue stripes, outlined in white, going vertically on the sleeves and then cutting horizontally on the bottom of the sleeve. The navy blue stripes came out of the sleeve diagonally and jabbed out to a point into the bottom of the jersey. The team wore these jerseys through the 2006–07 season.
For the 2007–08 season, the Islanders redesigned their uniforms as all NHL teams changed over to the Rbk Edge system. The new Islanders jersey features uniform numbers on the right chest above the logo. The name plates are in two colored format: white on orange on the home navy blue jersey and navy blue on orange on the road white jersey. On the upper arms, between the elbow and shoulders, the jersey has an additional orange stripe, where prior jerseys had no stripe. The new jerseys have a thin stripe tracing around the shoulders, and they feature "retro" laces at the neck.
The Islanders' current third jersey is a royal blue throwback design resembling the jersey that the team wore in the 1970s, except with white instead of orange lettering. According to Chris Botta, the Islanders' former head of public relations, the team is considering adopting the third jersey as their primary uniform in future seasons.
This is a only a partial list of the last five seasons. For the full season-by-season history, see New York Islanders seasons
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|2003–04||82||38||29||11||4||91||237||210||3rd, Atlantic||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 1–4 (Lightning)|
|2004–05||Season cancelled due to 2004–05 NHL lockout|
|2005–06||82||36||40||—||6||78||230||278||4th, Atlantic||Did not qualify|
|2006–07||82||40||30||—||12||92||248||240||4th, Atlantic||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 1–4 (Sabres)|
|2007–08||82||35||38||—||9||79||194||243||5th, Atlantic||Did not qualify|
- 1 As of the 2005–06 NHL season, all games will have a winner; the OTL column includes SOL (Shootout losses).
Updated October 28, 2010.
Honored members Edit
Hall of Famers Edit
- Mike Bossy, RW, 1977–87, inducted 1991
- Clark Gillies, LW, 1974–86, inducted 2002
- Pat LaFontaine, C, 1984–91, inducted 2003
- Denis Potvin, D, 1973–88, inducted 1991
- Billy Smith, G, 1972–89, inducted 1993
- Bryan Trottier, C, 1975–90, inducted 1997
- Al Arbour, Head coach, 1973–86 & 1988–94, 2007, inducted 1996
- Bill Torrey, GM, VP, President, & Chairman of the Board, 1972–92, inducted 1995
Retired numbers and honored individuals Edit
- 5 Denis Potvin, D, 1973–88, number retired February 1, 1992.
- 9 Clark Gillies, LW, 1974–86, number retired December 7, 1996.
- 19 Bryan Trottier, C, 1975–90, number retired October 20, 2001.
- 22 Mike Bossy, RW, 1977–87, number retired March 3, 1992.
- 23 Bob Nystrom, RW, 1973–86, number retired April 1, 1995.
- 31 Billy Smith , G, 1972–89, number retired February 20, 1993.
- 1500 Al Arbour Head Coach, 1973–86, 1988–94 & November 3, 2007, banner raised at end of game, November 3, 2007 (in honor of the 1500th regular season game he coached for the Islanders).
- Bill Torrey, GM, VP, President, & Chairman of the Board, 1972–92, (his banner features the words "The Architect" and a bowtie, which was his trademark, in place of a number)
- Bob Bourne, LW, 1974–86, inducted in Islanders Hall of Fame, November 25, 2006.
All of the above are members of the team's Hall of Fame. Individual plaques and a banner honors this accomplishment as well.
First-round draft picksEdit
- 1972: Bill Harris (1st overall)
- 1973: Denis Potvin (1st overall)
- 1974: Clark Gillies (4th overall)
- 1975: Pat Price (11th overall)
- 1976: Alex McKendry (14th overall)
- 1977: Mike Bossy (15th overall)
- 1978: Steve Tambellini (15th overall)
- 1979: Duane Sutter (17th overall)
- 1980: Brent Sutter (17th overall)
- 1981: Paul Boutilier (21st overall)
- 1982: Patrick Flatley (21st overall)
- 1983: Pat LaFontaine (3rd overall) & Gerald Diduck (16th overall)
- 1984: Duncan MacPherson (20th overall)
- 1985: Brad Dalgarno (6th overall) & Derek King (13th overall)
- 1986: Tom Fitzgerald (17th overall)
- 1987: Dean Chynoweth (13th overall)
- 1988: Kevin Cheveldayoff (16th overall)
- 1989: David Chyzowski (2nd overall)
- 1990: Scott Scissons (6th overall)
- 1991: Scott Lachance (4th overall)
Franchise scoring leadersEdit
These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.
Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Islanders player
Franchise individual recordsEdit
- Most goals in a season: Mike Bossy, 69 (1978–79)
- Most assists in a season: Bryan Trottier, 87 (1978–79)
- Most points in a season: Mike Bossy, 147 (1981–82)
- Most penalty minutes in a season: Brian Curran, 356 (1986–87)
- Most points in a season, defenseman: Denis Potvin, 101 (1978–79)
- Most points in a season, rookie: Bryan Trottier, 95 (1975–76)
- Most wins in a season: Billy Smith; Chris Osgood, Rick DiPietro 32 (1981–82; 2001–02; 2006–07)
Radio and televisionEdit
Most games are shown locally on MSG Plus and MSG PLUS 2.
The following is a list of on-air talent:
- Howie Rose, play-by-play
- Billy Jaffe, color analyst
- C. J. Papa, ice-side reporter
- Deb Placey, studio host
- Butch Goring, studio analyst
Evening games are usually carried on 94.3 WMJC and 90.3 FM in Brooklyn. All afternoon games are on WHLI 1100 AM.
The following is a list of on-air talent:
- Steve Mears, play-by-play
- Chris King, color analyst
- ↑ Bryan Trottier's career hockey statistics. Hockeydb.com. Retrieved on September 19 2006.
- ↑ New York Islanders' entry at Sports Ecyclopedia
- ↑ Murphy, Austin. Closing In. Sports Illustrated, 1994-06-13.
- ↑ 
- ↑ 
- ↑ 
- ↑ Stan Fischler and Chris Botta, Pride and Passion: 25 Years of the New York Islanders, page 158.
- ↑ WashingtonPost.com: Stanley Cup 1998 - History
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Fischler, Stan (1999). Cracked Ice: An Insider's Look at the NHL. Lincolnwood, Illinois: Masters Press. ISBN 1570282196.
- ↑ Isles shake up draft. SLAM Sports. Retrieved on September 19 2006.
- ↑ New York Islanders stats at Internet Hockey Database
- ↑ NHL Playoff Formats at NHL.com. Since 1999, the six division winners are guaranteed the top three seeds in their conference and home-ice advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs.
- ↑ http://web.archive.org/web/20070601152423/http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/ny-spisles0530,0,2782722.story?coll=ny-sports-headlines
- ↑ http://newyorkislanders.com/pressbox/archive.asp?id=1648
- ↑ DiPietro Signed to Fifteen Year Deal. Newyorkislanders.com. Retrieved on September 19 2006.
- ↑ http://newyorkislanders.com/pressbox/archive.asp?id=1654
- ↑ http://islanders.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=379621
- ↑ Visions of $200M renovation
- ↑ http://www.newsday.com/services/newspaper/printedition/saturday/news/ny-spwang286052654feb28,0,407976.story
- ↑ http://www.kansascity.com/sports/hockey/story/1053547.html
- ↑ http://sports.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090120.wsptislanders20/GSStory/GlobeSportsHockey/home?cid=al_gam_mostview
- ↑ Botta, Chris. "The Tale of the Fisherman Jersey Or, Shame and Mutiny on the Bounty", www.islanderspointblank.com, 2008-10-19. Retrieved on 2008-10-20.
- ↑ New York Islanders - News: ISLANDERS UNVEIL NEW RBK EDGE JERSEYS! - 08/15/2007
- ↑ http://www.islanderspointblank.com/2008/10/exclusive-third-jersey-could-be-firstnyi-considering-full-time-move-to-classic-design/
- ↑ Hockeydb.com, New York Islanders season statistics and records.
- ↑ NHL.com - Standings
- ↑ New York Islanders — Team — Roster. New York Islanders. Retrieved on 2010-10-25.
Works cited Edit
- Stan Fischler and Chris Botta, Pride and Passion: 25 Years of the New York Islanders
- Alan Hahn, Fish Sticks: The Fall and Rise of the New York Islanders
- Alan Hahn, Birth of a Dynasty: The 1980 New York Islanders
|Stanley Cup Champions|
1979–80, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83
| Succeeded by|
|New York Islanders|
|The franchise||Franchise • Expansion draft • Seasons • Records • Draft picks • GMs • Award winners • Head coaches|
|Arenas||Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum • Barclays Center|
|Retired numbers||5 • 9 • 19 • 22 • 23 • 31|
|Affiliates||Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) • Missouri Mavericks (ECHL)|
|Rivals||New York Rangers • Philadelphia Flyers • New Jersey Devils|
|Stanley Cup Finals (5)||Won: 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • Lost: 1984|