New York Islanders

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New York Islanders
Conference Eastern
Division Atlantic
Founded 1972
History New York Islanders
1972-present
Arena Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
City Uniondale, New York
Local Media Affiliates FSN New York
MSG
WBBR (1130 AM)
Team Colors Dark Blue and Orange
Owner Charles Wang
General Manager Garth Snow
Head Coach Ted Nolan
Captain Alexei Yashin
Minor League Affiliates Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL)
Pensacola Ice Pilots (ECHL)
Stanley Cups 1979-80, 1980-81, 1981-82, 1982-83
Conference Championships 1977-78, 1978-79, 1980-81, 1981-82, 1982-83, 1983-84
Division Championships 1977-78, 1978-79, 1980-81, 1981-82, 1983-84, 1987-88

The New York Islanders are a professional ice hockey team based in Uniondale, New York. They play in the Atlantic Division 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. Since that time, the Islanders have struggled to contend for the Stanley Cup, suffering a lengthy playoff drought followed by several quick exits from the NHL playoffs.

Contents

[edit] Franchise history

Image:Newyorkislandslogo80s.gif
New York's first logo

[edit] 1970-74: The NHL Comes to Long Island

With the impending start of the World Hockey Association 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 professional 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 league president Clarence Campbell, who 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 franchise to 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 "Islanders" name came as something of a surprise. [citation needed]

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 crosstown Rangers have been the Islanders' biggest rivals ever since.

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. General Manager Bill Torrey was committed to building his team with young players via shrewd selections in the amateur draft. In the team's first season, young players such as goaltender Billy Smith (the team's first 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 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 cut their total goals against by 100, 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.

[edit] 1974-79: Ascendency

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 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.

It was a harbinger of things to come for the franchise. 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. Centerman Bryan Trottier, who scored 95 points and won the Calder Trophy, was blossoming into a superstar.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> It would be the first of four consecutive 100-point seasons, including the first two division titles in franchise history.

[edit] Postseason Disappointments

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 1978, right winger Mike 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. It came to a head in 1976, when the Nets were one of four ABA teams taken into the National Basketball Association (they had actually wanted to bolt a year earlier, but were forced to stay in the ABA by court order). However, in addition to the $3 million franchise fee, the Nets had to pay an additional $4.8 million to the New York Knicks for "invading" the Knicks' NBA territory. Boe was forced to sell the Nets' best player, Julius Erving, to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets promptly crashed into the cellar only a year after winning the last ABA title, and the team never fully recovered until the early 2000s.

Boe's financial troubles affected the Islanders as well. They were still far behind on the $10 million they had paid in startup costs. Eventually, he was forced to sell both his teams. He readily found a buyer for the Nets, but had less luck finding one for the Islanders. However, Torrey quickly orchestrated a sale to minority owner John Pickett, Jr., who made Torrey team president. Soon after buying the Islanders, Pickett signed a very lucrative cable contract with the fledgling Sportschannel New York. 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 Fox Sports Net New York, for over a quarter-century.

[edit] 1980-84: The Dynasty Years

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. Trottier and Bossy once again provided a 1-2 punch on offense, while Potvin's defense and all-around game made that 1-2-3. Billy Harris and defenseman Dave Lewis were traded for second line center Butch Goring. Acquiring Goring, a strong two-way player, ensured that opponents would no longer be able to focus their defensive efforts on the Isles' first line of Bossy, Trottier, and Clark Gillies. In Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Bob Nystrom, on an assist by John Tonelli, scored at 7:11 of overtime to defeat the Flyers and bring Long Island its first Stanley Cup.

The Islanders dominated the next two seasons. Bossy scored 50 goals in 50 games in 1981, and the Islanders knocked off the Minnesota North Stars in five games to win their second Cup.

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. They won both the regular-season title and the Stanley Cup, this time over the Vancouver Canucks in a four-game sweep, with Bossy scored the winning goal in spectacular fashion, and was named Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs after the 1982 title.

Though 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[1]. The 1982-83 season was thus a battle to decide which was the best team in the NHL. Though the Oilers won the regular season championship, the Islanders swept them in the championship finals to win their fourth straight Cup, holding Gretzky without a goal during the series. Bossy again scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal.

The Isles finished the 1983-84 regular season tied atop the Prince of Wales Conference while successfully defending their Patrick Division title. They won hard fought series with the Rangers in the opening round of the playoffs, nicknamed the Battle of New York, and proceeded to reach their fifth Stanley Cup final. This time, they were dethroned in five games by the Oilers' offensive juggernaut. 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, who had earned home ice advantage in the series (despite finishing lower than the Oilers in the regular season), 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 win the series on home ice in games six and seven.

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. The three games in Edmonton were a disaster, as the Islanders lost 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 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 only needed to win three series in the 1976 and 1977 playoffs, the Islanders had to win four series in each of their Stanley Cup wins.

[edit] 1984-91: Post-Dynasty and the Easter Epic

The Isles generally remained competitive for the rest of the decade, even as some of the stars from the Cup teams began departing. However, in the 1984-85 NHL season, they slipped to third in the Patrick Division and could do no better in the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons. The Isles were now facing stiff competition from their division rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals; they suffered 1985 and 1987 second round playoff elimination at the hands of the Flyers, while the 1986 sweep by the Capitals was the Isles' first exit from the opening round of the playoffs 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 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 Washington Capitals, the Isles had fallen behind in the series three games to one. Several of their key players such as Mike Bossy, Brent Sutter and Denis Potvin were injured for the decisive game five (though the Capitals had lost regulars Craig Laughlin, Alan Haworth and John Barrett, they were nonetheless perceived as full-strength)[2].

However, 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 a goal while Pat LaFontaine scored in the fourth overtime[3].

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 New Jersey Devils. After the '88 playoffs, Denis Potvin retired holding records for most career goals (310), assists (742) and points (1052) by a defenseman.

During the mid-1980s, 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 didn't become clear immediately, the lack of funds limited Torrey's ability to replace all of the departing talent. The Islanders also struggled to select amateur players who would make an impact as scorers in the NHL. A year after winning the division, the Islanders struggled at the start of the 1988-89 season, which led Torrey to fire Simpson and bring Arbour back. However, the Islanders finished with 61 points, tied with the Quebec Nordiques for the worst record in the league. It was the Islanders' first losing season and first time out of the playoffs since their second year of existence. Goalie Billy Smith, the last remaining original Islander, retired after the season.

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, and 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.

[edit] 1991-95: New Faces and a Playoff Run

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 traded longtime captain Brent Sutter, LaFontaine and others for a group of younger players including Pierre Turgeon, Benoit Hogue, Steve Thomas, and Uwe Krupp. 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 reasonable foundation in the early '90s.

Torrey stepped down as GM in 1992 to help organize the expansion Florida Panthers and was replaced by Don Maloney. In Maloney's first year, 1992-93, the Islanders climbed out of the cellar and making it to the Wales Conference Finals. The LaFontaine-Turgeon trade proved successful for both the Islanders and Buffalo Sabres as both players hit career highs in points and Turgeon himself won the Lady Byng Trophy, the first major NHL award since Mike Bossy had won the Byng Trophy in 1986.

Ferraro emerged as a playoff hero, scoring multiple overtime winners in the first round series against the Washington Capitals. Instead of celebrating after winning the decisive sixth game at Nassau Coliseum, however, the Islanders were both irate and despondent because Turgeon, the team's star center and leading scorer, was checked from behind by Dale Hunter while Turgeon was celebrating a series-clinching goal. Turgeon was believed to be out for the entire second round, if not longer, with a separated shoulder. Hunter received a then-record 21-game suspension.

The Islanders' next opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins, were twice-defending champions and full of stars such as Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Ron Francis. 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.

Turgeon returned for the semifinals 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 game series, 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 two years, but knowing that the expansion draft was coming, he decided to replace Healy, a fan favorite for his excellent play in the postseason, with 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 into the 1994 playoffs before being swept in a lopsided first-round series by the Rangers. 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.

[edit] 1995-2000: Management Issues

As the 1990s wore on, 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, he 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.

Image:Islanders fisherman.jpg
The short-lived "Fisherman" logo

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 the "fisherman" logo. It proved to be such a disaster that the team announced less than a year after unveiling it that they would revert back to the original logo as soon as league rules allowed. Rangers fans still mock the Isles with chants of "we want fishsticks", a reference to the way the logo resembled the Gorton's 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. Throughout all these coaching changes and losing seasons, Milbury kept his job as GM.

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 three months of the deal's closing in 1997, he still hadn't paid Pickett the first installment on the cable deal. Evidence surfaced that Spano had deliberately misled the NHL and the Islanders about his net worth, and an investigation by Newsday revealed that Spano 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 six years in prison for bank and wire fraud. The NHL was embarrassed when reports surfaced that it had only spent $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, trading such young players as Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan McCabe. However, the new ownership group eventually decided to run the team on an austere budget in an attempt to make a profit. 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. Eventually, under Milstein and Gluckstern, the team traded or released many popular players who made more than $1M, including star scorer Zigmund Palffy, captain Trevor Linden, 1997 Calder Trophy-winning defenseman Bryan Berard and rugged defenseman Rich Pilon.

In 2000, Milstein and Gluckstern sold the team to Computer Associates executives Charles Wang and Sanjay Kumar.

[edit] 2000-2005: A Return to Respectability

With stable ownership finally in place, Milbury was allowed to make 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. He was then free to select 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."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> 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 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 traded for centers Alexei Yashin from the Ottawa Senators and Michael Peca from the Buffalo Sabres for draft picks and up-and-coming young players. 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. The Islanders opened the season on a tear, going 11-0-1-1, as they easily made the 2002 playoffs before bowing out to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a very physical first round series, four games to three. That series was one of the best that the 2002 Stanley Cup Playoffs had to offer. Neither team won a road game. One of the most exciting moments took place in Game 4 when Shawn Bates scored on a penalty shot with a 2:30 to play to give the Islanders the lead and ultimately the game. In Game 5, Gary Roberts charged Islander defenseman Kenny Jonsson and Darcy Tucker submarined Peca, the Islanders' captain, with a questionable check. Neither Jonsson nor Peca returned in the series.

Despite the desperate promise shown in the Toronto series, the Islanders failed to make it past the first round the next year, losing a first-round series to the Senators. Milbury, known to make moves that often 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 made the playoffs and lost in the first round 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. Peca was traded to Edmonton for speedy 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. The team played inconsistent hockey and finished out of the playoffs.

[edit] 2006: A New Look

On January 12, 2006, Milbury fired Steve Stirling and named assistant Brad Shaw the interim head coach. Milbury also announced that he would step down as general manager once a successor was found.

Image:NYI 139.gif
The shoulder logo of the Islanders; the team's orange and white colors in bold, diagonal lines (which represent the 4 Stanley Cups) across a dark blue rectangle.

On May 31, 2006, the Islanders announced the addition of Bryan Trottier to the front office as Executive Director of Player Development. The following week, on June 7, Wang announced the hiring of Neil Smith as GM and former Sabres coach Ted Nolan as head coach. He also announced that Pat LaFontaine would return to the Islanders as Senior Advisor to the Owner. In a surprising move, however, Wang fired Smith a little more than a month later and replaced him with the team's backup goalie, Garth Snow. According to Wang, Smith was fired because of a "difference in philosophy." The owner had intended for LaFontaine, Nolan, Smith, Trottier and himself to form a committee similar to a corporate board of directors, while Smith was uncomfortable working without the degree of control that NHL general managers usually have. Later the same day, LaFontaine resigned his Senior Advisor post. Reports indicated that LaFontaine decided the fit wasn't right after Wang ignored his advice to wait a few days before making a final decision about Smith.<ref>"Lafontaine leaves post as senior advisor" Mark Hermann, Newsday, July 19, 2006</ref>

Prior to Smith's firing, the Islanders made several free agent acquisitions, including defensemen Brendan Witt and Tom Poti and forwards Mike Sillinger and Chris Simon. Sean Hill, Viktor Kozlov and Richard Park signed on after Smith was dismissed.

On September 12, 2006, the Islanders announced that they had signed goaltender Rick DiPietro to a 15-year, 67.5 million dollar contract, among the longest in professional sports history.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

On October 13, 2006, Hall of Famer and the Islanders' all-time leading goal-scorer, Mike Bossy, returned to the organization as Executive Director of Corporate Relations.<ref>http://www.newyorkislanders.com/pressbox/archive.asp?id=1099</ref>

[edit] Islanders Jerseys

The Islanders debuted in 1971 with traditional-style jerseys: either white with orange and blue stripes near the waistline and on the sleeves or 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 a darker blue and 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, designed to resemble an ocean wave, near the waistline, on the sleeves and across the shoulders. Late in the season, the team decided to do away with the fisherman logo, but league rules forbade them from switching jersey designs on only a few months' notice. Instead, the Islanders debuted their first third jersey for the 1996-97 season. It 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 adopteded it permanently for 1997-98.

Prior to 1998-99, the team's new ownership reverted to the initial traditional design but kept the dark 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 current jersey features a raised outline.

The current third jersey was introduced in 2003. It is orange and has blue stripes going vertically on the sleeves and then cutting horizontally on the bottom of the sleeve. The blue stripes come out of the sleeve diagonally and jab out to a point into the bottom of the jersey. The blue strips are outlined in white. The logo has remained the same from the home and away jerseys.

[edit] Season-by-season record

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

Records as of November 28, 2006. <ref>Hockeydb.com, New York Islanders season statistics and records.</ref>

Season GP W L T OTL Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
1972-73 78 12 60 6 30 170 347 881 8th, East Did not qualify
1973-74 78 19 41 18 56 182 247 1075 8th, East Did not qualify
1974-75 80 33 25 22 88 264 221 1118 3rd, Patrick Won in Preliminary Round, 2-1 (Rangers) </br> Won in Quarterfinals, 4-3 (Penguins) </br> Lost in Semifinals, 3-4 (Flyers)
1975-76 80 42 21 17 101 297 190 1277 2nd, Patrick Won in Preliminary Round, 2-0 (Canucks) </br> Won in Quarterfinals, 4-2 (Sabres) </br> Lost in Semifinals, 1-4 (Canadiens)
1976-77 80 47 21 12 106 288 193 1012 2nd, Patrick Won in Preliminary Round, 2-0 (Black Hawks) </br> Won in Quarterfinals, 4-0 (Sabres) </br> Lost in Semifinals, 2-4 (Canadiens)
1977-78 80 48 17 15 111 334 210 938 1st, Patrick Lost in Quarterfinals, 3-4 (Maple Leafs)
1978-79 80 51 15 14 116 358 214 1077 1st, Patrick Won in Quarterfinals, 4-0 (Black Hawks) </br> Lost in Semifinals, 2-4 (Rangers)
1979-80 80 39 28 13 91 281 247 1298 2nd, Patrick Won in Preliminary Round, 3-1 (Kings) </br> Won in Quarterfinals, 4-1 (Bruins) </br> Won in Semifinals, 4-2 (Sabres) </br> Stanley Cup Champions, 4-2 (Flyers)
1980-81 80 48 18 14 110 355 260 1442 1st, Patrick Won in Preliminary Round, 3-0 (Maple Leafs) </br> Won in Quarterfinals, 4-2 (Oilers) </br> Won in Semifinals, 4-0 (Rangers) </br> Stanley Cup Champions, 4-1 (North Stars)
1981-82 80 54 16 10 118 385 250 1328 1st, Patrick Won in Division Semifinals, 3-2 (Penguins) </br> Won in Division Finals, 4-2 (Rangers) </br> Won in Conference Finals, 4-0 (Nordiques) </br> Stanley Cup Champions, 4-0 (Canucks)
1982-83 80 42 26 12 96 302 226 1266 2nd, Patrick Won in Division Semifinals, 3-1 (Capitals) </br> Won in Division Finals, 4-2 (Rangers) </br> Won in Conference Finals, 4-2 (Bruins) </br> Stanley Cup Champions, 4-0 (Oilers)
1983-84 80 50 26 4 104 357 269 1157 1st, Patrick Won in Division Semifinals, 3-2 (Rangers) </br> Won in Division Finals, 4-1 (Capitals) </br> Won in Conference Finals, 4-2 (Canadiens) </br> Lost in Finals, 1-4 (Oilers)
1984-85 80 40 34 6 86 345 312 1516 3rd, Patrick Won in Division Semifinals, 3-2 (Capitals) </br> Lost in Division Finals, 1-4 (Flyers)
1985-86 80 39 29 12 90 327 284 1343 3rd, Patrick Lost in Division Semifinals, 0-3 (Capitals)
1986-87 80 35 33 12 82 279 281 1857 3rd, Patrick Won in Division Semifinals, 4-3 (Capitals) </br> Lost in Division Finals, 3-4 (Flyers)
1987-88 80 39 31 10 88 308 267 1732 1st, Patrick Lost in Division Semifinals, 2-4 (Devils)
1988-89 80 28 47 5 61 265 325 1822 6th, Patrick Did not qualify
1989-90 80 31 38 11 73 281 288 1777 4th, Patrick Lost in Division Semifinals, 1-4 (Rangers)
1990-91 80 25 45 10 60 223 290 1723 6th, Patrick Did not qualify
1991-92 80 34 35 11 79 291 299 1713 5th, Patrick Did not qualify
1992-93 84 40 37 7 87 335 297 1701 3rd, Patrick Won in Division Semifinals, 4-2 (Capitals) </br> Won in Division Finals, 4-3 (Penguins) </br> Lost in Conference Finals, 1-4 (Canadiens)
1993-94 84 36 36 12 84 282 264 1787 4th, Atlantic Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 0-4 (Rangers)
1994-951 48 15 28 5 35 126 158 901 7th, Atlantic Did not qualify
1995-96 82 22 50 10 54 229 315 1669 7th, Atlantic Did not qualify
1996-97 82 29 41 12 70 240 250 1640 7th, Atlantic Did not qualify
1997-98 82 30 41 11 71 212 225 1646 4th, Atlantic Did not qualify
1998-99 82 24 48 10 58 194 244 1111 5th, Atlantic Did not qualify
1999-00 82 24 49 8 1 57 194 275 1376 5th, Atlantic Did not qualify
2000-01 82 21 51 7 3 52 185 268 1339 5th, Atlantic Did not qualify
2001-02 82 42 28 8 4 96 239 220 1255 2nd, Atlantic Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 3-4 (Maple Leafs)
2002-03 82 35 34 11 2 83 224 231 1244 3rd, Atlantic Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 1-4 (Senators)
2003-04 82 38 29 11 4 91 237 210 1168 3rd, Atlantic Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 1-4 (Lightning)
2004-052
2005-063 82 36 40 6 78 230 278 1299 4th, Atlantic Did not qualify
2006-07 23 12 8 3 27 65 61 317
Totals 2632 1148 1118 346 20 2662 8819 8455 45488
1 Season was shortened due to the 1994-95 NHL lockout.
2 Season was cancelled due to the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
3 As of the 2005-06 NHL season, all games will have a winner; the OTL column includes SOL (Shootout losses).

[edit] Notable players

[edit] Current roster

As of November 27, 2006.

Goaltenders
# Player Catches Acquired Place of Birth
1 Image:Flag of the United States.svg Mike Dunham L 2006 Johnson City, New York
39 Image:Flag of the United States.svg Rick DiPietro R 2000 Winthrop, Massachusetts
<center>Defensemen
# Player Shoots Acquired Place of Birth
3 Image:Flag of the United States.svg Tom Poti L 2006 Worcester, Massachusetts
6 Image:Flag of the United States.svg Sean Hill L 2006 Duluth, Minnesota
8 Image:Flag of Canada.svg Bruno Gervais R 2003 Acadie, Quebec
24 Image:Flag of the Czech Republic (bordered).svg Radek Martinek R 1999 Havlíčkův Brod, Czechoslovakia
32 Image:Flag of Canada.svg Brendan Witt - A L 2006 Humboldt, Saskatchewan
77 Image:Flag of Russia (bordered).svg Alexei Zhitnik L 2005 Kiev, U.S.S.R.
<center>Forwards
# Player Position Shoots Acquired Place of Birth
7 Image:Flag of Canada.svg Trent Hunter RW R 2000 Red Deer, Alberta
10 Image:Flag of the United States.svg Richard Park RW R 2006 Seoul, South Korea
11 Image:Flag of the United States.svg Andy Hilbert LW L 2006 Lansing, Michigan
12 Image:Flag of Canada.svg Chris Simon LW L 2006 Wawa, Ontario
16 Image:Flag of the United States.svg Mike York C R 2005 Waterford, Michigan
17 Image:Flag of the United States.svg Shawn Bates RW R 2001 Melrose, Massachusetts
18 Image:Flag of Canada.svg Mike Sillinger - A C R 2006 Regina, Saskatchewan
25 Image:Flag of Russia (bordered).svg Viktor Kozlov C R 2006 Togliatti, U.S.S.R
45 Image:Flag of Canada.svg Arron Asham RW R 2002 Portage la Prairie, Manitoba
55 Image:Flag of the United States.svg Jason Blake C L 2001 Moorhead, Minnesota
79 Image:Flag of Russia (bordered).svg Alexei Yashin - C Injured C R 2002 Sverdlovsk, U.S.S.R.
81 Image:Flag of Slovakia.svg Miroslav Satan RW L 2005 Topoľčany, Czechoslovakia

[edit] Team captains


[edit] Hall of Famers

Players
Builders
  • Al Arbour, Head coach, 1973-86 & 1988-94, inducted 1996
  • Bill Torrey, GM, VP, President, & Chairman of the Board, 1972-92, inducted 1995

[edit] Retired Numbers & Honored Individuals

  • 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
  • 99 Wayne Gretzky, number retired league-wide February 6, 2000 (Did not play with the Islanders Organization - Listed for Informational Purposes)
  • 739 Al Arbour Head Coach, 1973-86 & 1988-94, banner raised January 25, 1997 (in honor of his 739 regular season coaching wins with 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)

[edit] First-round draft picks


[edit] Franchise scoring leaders

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

Player Pos GP G A Pts P/G
Bryan Trottier C 1123 500 853 1353 1.20
Mike Bossy RW 752 573 553 1126 1.50
Denis Potvin D 1060 310 742 1052 .99
Clark Gillies LW 872 304 359 663 .76
Brent Sutter C 694 287 323 610 .88
Pat LaFontaine C 530 287 279 566 1.07
John Tonelli LW 594 206 338 544 .92
Bob Bourne C 814 238 304 542 .67
Bob Nystrom RW 900 235 278 513 .57
Derek King LW 638 211 288 499 .78

[edit] NHL awards and trophies

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

Lester Patrick Trophy

Vezina Trophy

William M. Jennings Trophy

NHL All-Rookie Team

First All-Star Team

Second All-Star Team


[edit] Franchise individual records

[edit] See also

[edit] References

<references/>

[edit] External links


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