The Interesting History of the New York Islanders


The first indoor game of ice hockey was played on March 3, 1875, in Montreal, which is the birthplace of the current game. The length of the ice rink and the use of a puck are two elements of the game that have persisted to this day. Professional ice hockey first appeared around the 1900s, but amateur ice hockey leagues first appeared in the 1880s. The Stanley Cup, which is a symbol of ice hockey club dominance, was originally given out in 1893 to honor the Canadian amateur champion. It eventually changed its name to the National Hockey League championship trophy after being commissioned in 1892 as the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup” (NHL).

However, New York-based New York Islanders are a professional ice hockey team. They are also known as the Isles. The Islanders play their home games at UBS Arena in the National Hockey League (NHL), where they are a part of the Metropolitan Division in the Eastern Conference. Along with the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers, the Islanders are one of three NHL teams located in the New York metropolitan area, and most of their Long Island-based supporters.

The Long Island Pursuits

The New York Raiders, a franchise of the newly formed World Hockey Association (WHA), were set to play in Nassau County’s brand-new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in the fall of 1972. County officials opposed allowing the Raiders in because they did not view the WHA as a major league. An NHL club was brought to Long Island with the assistance of William Shea, who had before assisted in the relocation of the Major League Baseball’s New York Mets. Shea had previously collaborated with emerging rival leagues, such as the Continental League, the American Football League, and the American Basketball Association, but his ultimate objective in these endeavors had always been to try to persuade the established leagues to award second franchises to New York, as had been the case with, as a result of those teams’ leagues joining forces with their longtime rivals, the Mets, as well as with the New York Jets and New York Nets.

Despite popular expectations, the team chose the name New York Islanders instead of the “Long Island Ducks,” the name of the Eastern Hockey League team that competed from 1959 until 1973. Local newspapers soon gave the team the moniker “Isles.” The Raiders, who played in Madison Square Garden under onerous lease terms and were forced to relocate to Cherry Hill, New Jersey in the middle of their second season, were effectively destroyed by the entrance of the Islanders. Bill Torrey, executive vice president of the California Golden Seals of the NHL, was appointed general manager of the franchise on February 14, 1972. In addition to selecting junior hockey greats Billy Harris, Lorne Henning, and Bobby Nystrom in the 1972 Amateur Draft, the Islanders also selected veteran forward Ed Westfall, defenseman Gerry Hart, and goaltender Billy Smith in the 1972 Expansion Draft. Phil Goyette was appointed as the team’s first head coach soon after the draft, but he was sacked halfway through the season and was later replaced by assistant coach Aut Erickson and head coach Earl Ingarfield. Torrey made fewer deals for senior players in the early years than the general managers of the majority of other expansion clubs because he was dedicated to constructing the squad through the draft. Westfall was appointed the team’s first captain before the start of the season. Torrey said, “I told the owners that we’re not going to defeat this team next door by taking the castoffs from other teams. We’d have to build our own stars.”

In a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on October 12, 1972, the Islanders recorded their first victory. Young players like Smith, Nystrom and Henning (all of whom would be a part of the Islanders dynasty of the early 1980s) were given opportunities to prove themselves in the NHL during the team’s inaugural season. However, the youthful and inexperienced expansion team finished the season with a record of 12-60-6, which set an NHL record for both the worst overall record and the number of losses in a season. On January 18, 1973, they defeated the Stanley Cup-winning Boston Bruins 9-7, which was a rare high point.

New York Islanders’ biggest Turnaround

To continue Torrey’s building strategy, the Islanders added young forwards Clark Gillies and Bryan Trottier with the fourth and 22nd overall picks in the 1974 draft. The Islanders experienced one of the greatest turnarounds in NHL history during the 1974–75 season. The team scored 88 points, 32 more than the previous season and two more than their first two seasons combined, under the leadership of Potvin, forwards Westfall, Harris, Nystrom, and Gillies, and goaltenders Smith and Glenn “Chico” Resch, earning their first playoff appearance. In a best-of-three first-round matchup against the rival New York Rangers, they prevailed. The Islanders came back to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the next round after falling behind three games to none in the best-of-seven series. Westfall’s late third-period goal gave the Islanders the series victory. Only four other significant North American professional sports teams (the 1941–1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 2004 Boston Red Sox, 2009–10 Philadelphia Flyers, and 2013–14 Los Angeles Kings) have achieved this accomplishment. In the subsequent round, they came near but weren’t as fortunate, coming back from another 3-0 deficit to force a seventh game against the Philadelphia Flyers, the defending Stanley Cup champions, before the Flyers won the crucial seventh game at home and went on to win the Cup once more. Arbour remained supportive of the team’s attitude and maturity despite a dismal postseason performance, saying, “If I called a practice next week, every one of them would show up.”

Building the Dynastic Records

Arbour stated he would stop worrying too much about his team’s regular season record after the Islanders’ domination in the regular season and playoff heartbreak in 1979. Instead, he directed his team’s attention to the playoff performance. With only 91 points in 1980, the Islanders fell below the 100-point threshold for the first time in five years. But they succeeded, at last, taking home the Stanley Cup.

Before the playoffs, Torrey made the difficult choice to deal with the Los Angeles Kings for second-line center Butch Goring in exchange for seasoned and well-liked veterans Billy Harris and defenseman Dave Lewis. The addition of Goring, a powerful two-way player, is frequently referred to as the “last piece of the puzzle” since it prevented opponents from concentrating their defensive efforts on the Islanders’ first line of Bossy, Trottier, and Clark Gillies. The Islanders’ playoff performance was also significantly influenced by contributions from new teammates, including wings Duane Sutter and Anders Kallur, home-based defensemen Dave Langevin, Gord Lane, and Ken Morrow. The latter of whom had just won an Olympic gold medal.

The Fallout


The Islanders successfully defended their Patrick Division championship and tied for first place in the Prince of Wales Conference at the completion of the regular season in 1983–84. The “Drive for Five” began with tension. Don Maloney tied the game with a contentious goal late in the decisive game of their first-round series against the Rangers because the Islanders thought Maloney’s stick was raised too high. The Rangers were finally defeated for the fourth year in a row. To set up a rematch with the Oilers in the finals, the squad then defeated the Washington Capitals in five games and the Montreal Canadiens in six. In the series, rookie Pat LaFontaine scored two goals in the third quarter in only 38 seconds. The Oilers defeated the Islanders this time to claim the first of five victories in seven years.

Even though several of the stars from the Cup teams left, the Islanders stayed competitive for the remainder of the decade. As the decade went on, Pickett stopped reinvesting the money from the team’s cable deal in the team as he had in previous years and started keeping it instead. In 1986, Clark Gillies was claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Sabres after Nystrom retired due to a major injury. After the 1985–86 season, Arbour stepped down as head coach, and Terry Simpson, a seasoned junior hockey coach, took over.

Barclays Center & New Forward

Andong Song, a forward, was selected by the Islanders in the sixth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, becoming the first Chinese player ever selected by an NHL team.

On October 9, 2015, the Islanders played their first regular-season game at the good, the bad, and the ugly: Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime. The inaugural regular-season goal was scored by Artem Anisimov, and the inaugural regular-season Islanders goal was scored by Tavares. The Islanders allowed the fewest power-play goals during the season and had the fourth-best penalty kill percentage.


The 50th season in the history of the New York Islanders was 2021–2022. This is their inaugural campaign at UBS Arena, Elmont New York where you can try new experiences to enjoy your visit to the city with a view of hockey games. Jordan Eberle was traded by the Islanders to the Seattle Kraken prior to the current campaign. The Islanders were eliminated from the playoff race on April 17, 2022, after losing 4-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Islanders sacked Barry Trotz as their head coach following the conclusion of the season.

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