One of 3 NHL teams currently located in the New York City area, the Islanders have one of the proudest histories of any hockey team. With a tremendous period of success in the early 80s, the franchise claimed 4 consecutive Stanley Cup titles and wore the dynasty label with distinction. While fortunes have certainly changed after that period, the future beckons brightly for the New York Islanders, who will soon be moving to Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
The Islanders formed in 1972 and then had some early struggles. Winning just 12 games in that inaugural season, the club was horrendous. But fortunes shifted several years in, and soon the club was on the path to league domination! A strong cast of players was formed over the course of a few years that included Billy Smith, Denis Potvin, Glen Resch, Billy Harris, and Bob Nystrom. They finally earned respect in 1975, earning a trip to the NHL playoffs and making some noise by beating their cross-town rival, the New York Rangers. They then defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins before falling to the Philadelphia Flyers in the semifinal round, courtesy of a heartbreaking 7-game series.
Despite the setback, the Islanders had developed belief, and the club would reach the playoffs for 14 straight seasons! During the late 70s the team became perennial disappointers in the playoffs, succumbing again and again to more talented clubs, but through wise draft picking soon collected several top NHL prospects, including Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy, both of whom earned the Calder Trophy, given to the league’s rookie of the year. Given the talent on board, a championship season was certain to follow shortly.
The team lived the dream in 1980. Despite a lackluster regular season, the Islanders got hot in the playoffs and finally took home the Stanley Cup! A key mid-season acquisition brought Butch Goring to the club and they never looked back, winning an enthralling Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in overtime against the Flyers, courtesy of a Bob Nystrom goal. The barrier had been broken…
With the swagger and belief that only a championship can instill, the Islanders would go on to win 3 more titles in the next 3 seasons, making a total run of 4 Stanley Cups! 1983 was perhaps the team’s most impressive win as they swept the Edmonton Oilers in the Finals, a team boasting the young talents of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, two future legends of the sport of hockey.
But the Oilers would get their revenge the following season, ending the Islander’s dynasty and establishing one of their own. While still a decent team for the next few years, key players began to age and the Islanders started to decline. The last playoff series the team won was in 1993, and they’ve been rather poor ever since.
The New York Islanders are now spearheaded by the talented trio of Kyle Okposo, John Tavares, and Frans Nielsen. Despite their ill run of fortune, there is certainly talent on board and the future could be bright. Perhaps the move to a new venue will push them onwards to another title. But with 4 Stanley Cups titles and a solid dynasty to boot, this is a team that has certainly lived the finest moments and could well be set for some more excitement in the years ahead!
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