Former Islanders GM Bill Torrey: Al Arbour having health problems

Islanders coach Al Arbour after winning the Stanley

Islanders coach Al Arbour after winning the Stanley Cup in 1983. (Credit: AP, 1983)

Al Arbour, who coached the Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83, is experiencing health problems, former general manager Bill Torrey told Newsday.

"Al has had some health problems of recent vintage, but the family hasn't released anything and I respect the family," Torrey said. "I've talked to some of the former players who have called him, and they say the conversation doesn't last very long."

Torrey did not expand on Arbour's condition or mention any symptoms. The Islanders declined to comment on the health of Arbour, 81, out of consideration for his family.

Bryan Trottier, who won four Stanley Cups while playing for Arbour, said Tuesday on a Buffalo radio station that Arbour is suffering from dementia.

Arbour is "going through a little tough time with dementia right now," Trottier -- an assistant coach for the Buffalo Sabres under Ted Nolan -- said on Sabres Hockey Hotline.

Arbour coached the Islanders from 1973-86 and again from 1988-1994. He led the Islanders to the playoffs 15 times and totaled 740 wins for the franchise. He also coached St. Louis from 1970-73. Arbour's total of 782 career wins in 23 seasons is second in NHL history to Scotty Bowman's 1,244 wins in 30 seasons.

He coached his 1,500th game for the Islanders on Nov. 3, 2007, when then-Islanders coach Nolan stepped down for one night to let Arbour go behind the bench one last time. Arbour guided the Isles to a 3-2 comeback victory over Pittsburgh.

No team in any major sport has won four straight titles since Arbour's Islanders did it. No other NHL team, before or since, has won 19 consecutive playoff series.

Arbour was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996 in the Builders section.

"Al was a great motivator. He was probably our father figure in the fact that we all respected him so much," Trottier said in the interview. "He had a great command of the room and at the same time he had a big man's presence. He had won a lot of Stanley Cups as a player with several different teams, he played with great players, so he always brought that credibility with him. For us to sit down with him one-on-one or when he was in front of us as a team, he had a great presence.

"We loved the man. Today, he's going through a little tough time with dementia right now, but we all love Al for all of the great times we had together and his leadership."

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