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Ranking the Islanders teams decade by decade

Islanders winger Mike Bossy cheers after his hat

Islanders winger Mike Bossy cheers after his hat trick goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum, on Jan. 13, 1981. With the goal, his 44th of the season, Bossy ties the NHL hat trick record of 7 in a season. The Islanders defeated the Penguins 6-3.  Credit: AP/RICHARD DREW

Wait, how did that happen? Another decade has come and gone.

Tuesday marks the end of the 2010s, which was the fifth decade the Islanders have been a part of the NHL.

To say goodbye to the 2010s and to welcome the 2020s, here’s our ranking of the Islanders’ decades, from the best to the worst:

1.1980s — Four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83 makes this a no-brainer. The Islanders won an incomprehensible 19 straight playoff series until falling to the Oilers — the Next Great Team — in five games in the 1984 Cup final. Mike Bossy scored 50 goals in 50 games in 1980-81. The Islanders won a franchise-record 15 straight from Jan. 21 to Feb. 20, 1982. Bob Bourne rushed end-to-end in Game 5 against the Rangers on April 20, 1983. Pat LaFontaine finally beat Bob Mason at 8:47 of the fourth overtime early in the morning on April 19, 1987 to end the Easter Epic Game 7 between the Islanders and Capitals. Are we forgetting something? Of course, we are. This was an incredible decade to be an Islanders’ fan.

Best moment: John Tonelli feeds Bob Nystrom in overtime in Game 6 on May 24, 1980 and the Islanders win their first Cup in front of a delirious Coliseum crowd.

Worst moment: The upstart Devils, in their first playoff appearance, eliminate the remnants of the Islanders’ Cup core in a six-game, first-round series in 1988. The glory days were officially over.

2. 1970s — The birth of a franchise in 1972 quickly, under the guidance of general manager Bill Torrey and coach Al Arbour, turned into the roots of a dynasty. It started with the draft: Billy Harris, Lorne Henning, Bob Nystrom and Garry Howatt in 1972; Denis Potvin and Dave Lewis in 1973; Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier, Dave Langevin and Stefan Persson in 1974; Ken Morrow in 1976; Mike Bossy and John Tonelli in 1977; Steve Tambellini in 1978;  Duane Sutter, Tomas Jonsson, Billy Carroll and Roland Melanson in 1979.

The first playoff run in 1975 included rallying from a 3-0 deficit to the Penguins and nearly doing so in the next round against the eventual Cup-champion Flyers. The first-round loss to the Maple Leafs in 1978 was devastating.

Best moment: The upstart Islanders win the decisive Game 3 of their first-round series against the established Rangers, 4-3, on April 11, 1975 on J.P. Parise’s winner 11 seconds into overtime.

Worst moment: The heavily-favored Islanders miss out on a first trip to the Cup final as the rival Rangers upset them in six games in 1979.

3. 2010s — John Tavares scored the equalizer late in regulation and then notched the overtime winner as the Islanders eliminated the Panthers in six games on April 25, 2016 for their first playoff series since 1993. The Islanders left NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum for Brooklyn after the 2015 playoffs, only to return during the 2018-19 season. Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky become majority owners in 2016 and ground is finally broken for a new arena at Belmont Park in the summer of 2019.

Best moment: New president and general manager Lou Lamoriello hires coach Barry Trotz on June 21, 2018 and the Islanders have their best management team since Torrey and Arbour.

Worst moment: John Tavares, the face of the franchise since being the No. 1 pick in 2009, signs a seven-year, $77 million deal with the Maple Leafs on July 1, 2018.

4. 2000s — There were first-round playoff losses in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2007 and a succession of coaches, from Butch Goring to Peter Laviolette to Steve Stirling to Ted Nolan to Scott Gordon to Jack Capuano. And Garth Snow went from the backup goalie to the GM on July 18, 2006 after Neil Smith spent six weeks on the job.

Best moment: Shawn Bates beats Curtis Joseph on the forehand for a game-winning penalty shot in Game 4 on April 24, 2002 of the Islanders’ eventual seven-game, first-round playoff loss to the Maple Leafs.

Worst moment: On June 24, 2000, former GM Mike Milbury goes against convention and selects goalie Rick DiPietro first overall and trades former goalie-of-the-future Roberto Luongo, plus Olli Jokinen, to the Panthers for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha.

5. 1990s — A decade punctuated by the ill-conceived Fisherman jersey. Also, by Milbury being named GM in 1995. And the Rangers, heading to their first Stanley Cup since 1940, eliminating the Islanders in four games in the first round in 1994 by an aggregate 22-3. Don’t forget Kirk Muller’s unhappy 27-game stay with the Islanders from 1995-96. Hands down, the worst decade.

Best moment: The Islanders eliminate the two-time Cup champion Penguins in the second round of the 1993 playoffs before losing to the eventual Cup champion Canadiens in five games.

Worst moment: The John Spano debacle of 1996-97. Islanders’ downtrodden fans initially viewed the prospective owner as a savoir. But he turned out to be a con artist and was convicted.

Picked from the pod

Andrew Ladd was the guest on Episode 13 of Island Ice, Newsday’s Islanders’ podcast.

The 34-year-old left wing discussed what turned out to be his one-game return to the NHL after two serious knee injuries last season, his thoughts on how he may stay involved with hockey once his playing career is done and what it’s like to play with the organization’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

“The difference of going down there, it’s a young team, first and foremost,” Ladd said. “You have Simon Holmstrom, who’s 18 and Wahlly [Oliver Wahlstrom] who’s 19 and Bode Wilde is 19. So, there’s a lot of young kids. I’m sure there was kind of a period of time where they were just getting used to being around me and then it kind of softened up a little bit and then a lot of questions. Questions started to flow. Just guys interested in my career and what I’ve done and being part of a couple Stanley Cup teams and just a lot of questions from that regard, which was a lot of fun. Makes you kind of feel old, but we know that’s kind of inevitable.”

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