Valuable quotes

"No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow." ~~

"The minute you start talking about what you're going to do if you lose, you've already lost." ~~

Cree Prophecy - "When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money." ~~

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bobby and the New York Islanders

Founded 1972, for me, they were the only team in the NHL in the 70’s and 80’s. Sure, there were those pesky Edmonton Oilers whose skinny young superstar Wayne Gretzky was shattering existing scoring records. So what? The Isles won three straight Stanley Cups, and I had Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier, Butch Goring and Bobby Nystrom. Thore Robert Nystrom…oh Bobby! The team called him Thor – I called him my favorite player and the one who got their Cup winning goal. The shot which happened to be the shot in Islanders' history.

But to even try to capture Bob Nystrom's career in one shot,would be a disservice to the player. The goal only typified his career, one highlighted not just by the result, but the hustle that put him in the position to receive the historic lead pass from John Tonelli that made Nystrom the first of many heroes all those years ago.

He was one of the hardest working, if not most talented, members of that team, for all the talk about Mike, Denis, Clark & Byran and oh yeah, Billy Smith in nets.

Nine-hundred games after his NHL career was born during the same season the Islanders were in 1972-73, making him a true "original Islander," his name and No. 23 were retired to the Nassau Coliseum rafters in what was an emotional retirement ceremony. Hardwork was obviously Nystrom’s catalyst and it was that. Something that helped him and his teammates from the early chapters of the franchise's history reach the pinnacle so quickly. Something that pushed him down the ice, just ahead of Mel Bridgeman in time to redirect the pass from Tonelli that beat Pete Peeters, the Philadelphia Flyers and the odds at 7:11 of overtime. That was May, 24, 1980. One day that not only solidified a franchise, it exemplified a career.

To remember Nystrom in this new age of hockey is like recalling those big block muscle cars from the 1960s and 70s: they just don't make 'em like that anymore. He was hardly an image of finesse, but he always found a way to keep up with the skaters of his day and even employed a coach during the off-season to improve his stride and speed. He wasn't a burly bruiser, either, yet he proved time and again he could handle himself against the notorious goons or anyone else who had the nerve to drop their gloves in his path.
The epitome of team player, Nystrom gave the Islanders whatever they needed in every game. Scoring, physical presence, energy, whatever equated to blood, sweat and tears. A 25-to-30 goal scorer during his best years, Nystrom seemed to thrive during the playoffs, where he holds the franchise mark with four overtime goals in playoff history, including the most memorable of all some 27 years ago this May.

Most especially, he embodies everything that used to be so special about sports that in these days of free agency has been long forgotten. A career Islander, he loved being a Long Islander and he still does, now serving as the team's Director of Corporate Relations. He was and is as much an image of the franchise, and Long Island, as any player in team history. Like Mario Lemieux, you couldn't imagine seeing him in any other jersey, or playing for any other team. Thankfully, we never had to.

The outstanding thing about the Isles that year was that there were so many hard working players, all of them on one team, and it equaled a Cup. And for their short life as a franchise they had great players and a good start to their dynasty. Their leaders were many. The Isles proved, at least in 1983, that they matched and could best Wayne Gretzky by beating the Oilers for the Stanley Cup. Not just the Cup, but the Isles fourth Cup in a row -No team in any major professional North American sport has won four consecutive championships since the Isles setting them aside as something very special. But I knew that.

Getting off to a bit of a rocky start in their early years, the Islanders were forced to pay a $4 million territorial fee to the nearby NY Rangers. Unique to New York City’s major league sports teams, the Islanders and the Rangers are both members of the same division, giving the cross state rivals many chances to meet throughout the regular season.

In 1980, the team took its first Stanley Cup Championship with the backing of a powerful defensive line.

With an overtime win in game six, the Islanders took down the Flyers making it a 4-2 series. The next season saw another Stanley Cup victory for the Islanders as well, when they Minnesota North Stars in five games.

But the Islanders didn’t stop there. The 1982 season marked their third championship in a row when they won both the regular season title and then the Stanley Cup, this time over the Vancouver Canucks in a four game sweep.

Bossy, Butch and Bobby...

Then, astoundingly 1983 marked their fourth cup in a row when the Isles swept the Gretzky-led Oilers. In fact, New York Islanders have seen five Stanley Cup runs and four Stanley Cup Championships in their time in the NHL.
However, since those days, the glory days for the Isles have somewhat dwindled. Until this past season when they once again found themselves in the first round, they have not seen a Stanley Cup run since 1984 and their standings in the league haven’t extraordinary.

But though the team's been struggling for a few years, now with their new retro logo, I think their off-season planning makes for promising new things to come. They have a fine squad of new players dedicated to winning and a terrific netminder, Rick DiPietro, in nets. They have veterans Bill Guerin and Miroslav Satan, they have youngsters like Jeff Tambellini and Chris Campoli ready to show they are up to the task.
And they are once again seeing excellent coaching from Jack Adams trophy winner, Ted Nolan.
I have every confidence that a new dynasty is in the making - one that may meet or surpass that of the first. A girl can only hope...

No comments:

For the consideration of family & friends...