Joey McMahon isn’t surprised by the amount of support he gets from the Islanders every year for his charity golf outing. McMahon, who started as the team’s equipment manager in 1983 and served in that role for 19 years, had a spot on the bench and was in the locker room to see exactly how close the players and other members of the organization were.
That still showed at the 22nd annual McMahon Family Golf Outing, which has turned into an Islanders homecoming and day of fundraising. Roughly 20 former Islanders, including Denis Potvin, were at Middle Island Country Club on Saturday afternoon in the sold-out, 250-golfer event to raise money for Hospice Care Network on Long Island and the American Liver Foundation.
The event, run by the Lee and Aidan McMahon Foundation, is in honor of Joey’s mother, Lee, who passed away from brain cancer in 1999, and his son, Aidan, who passed away in 2002 at 13 months old from complications from liver diseases, including biliary atresia .
Year after year, former Islanders flock from all over the world to return to Long Island to support the McMahon family. This August was no different.
“This is something you look forward to because you see guys that you don’t see for years,” said John Tonelli, a left wing who played eight years with the Islanders from 1978-1985. “In some cases, we see them every year and at this event and we’re lucky that Joey has taken the effort to put something like this together.”
McMahon said it’s never a problem finding Islanders that want to help and, through his industry connections, Saturday had nearly 400 items of sports memorabilia on silent auction, such as signed jerseys from Mario Lemieux, John Tavares, Sauce Gardner, Joe Klecko, Michael Strahan and Saquon Barkley.
“It’s personal. It’s not just an event that you show up and have a good time at,” said Mick Vukota, a right wing who spent 10 years with the Islanders from 1987-1997. “It’s personal for all the guys that have been a part of the Islanders family.”
Potvin said the bus rides to the course are filled with stories from different generations of players and 'the only thing missing is a microphone.' The Hall of Famer loves to reminisce about the Islanders’ four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-1983, a team he believes is one of the most dominant of all-time. Potvin said he’s petitioned the Hockey Hall of Fame to create a category in Toronto for the best teams ever.
“They bring in player after player every year, but there should be a category in the Hockey Hall of Fame for the best teams ever,” Potvin said. “We, of course, having won 19 consecutive playoff series, [and] losing in the 20th, should be on the top of the list and then you can put the Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, even the Russians, if you want, for their prowess for winning world championships. There’s got to be recognition for the team that we had over those years.”
Pierre Turgeon, a center who played four years for the Islanders from 1991-95 as part of his 19-year career, will be joining Potvin in the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 13. He had fond memories of playing on Long Island, including his children being born locally. Turgeon said he wasn’t expecting the Hall of Fame call this year, which he received in Las Vegas, but said the moment was “incredible.” He’s looking forward to being at the podium to properly thank the people that helped him throughout his career.
“I was hoping it would happen one day but I was in Vegas not thinking about it,” Turgeon said. “And then I was like, ‘Wow, this is a great phone call to get.’”
Even with all the tremendous individual accomplishments many former Islanders shared with each other on Saturday, they were most excited to hear the stories from others. It’s turned into a yearly tradition and McMahon is grateful for that.
“This means everything to me and my family,” McMahon said. “This event has just grown into something that is beyond belief.”
And Jiggs McDonald, who spent 15 years as the Islanders play-by-play caller starting in 1980, said the players appreciate the opportunity to come back for the event.
“I don’t think there’s a guy that will walk away from here tonight without knowing what weekend it will be next year,” McDonald said. “You don’t wait for a call that says when it’s going to be.”