(Nystrom recalls scoring the overtime winner in Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final against the Flyers and the ensuing celebration as the Islanders won the first of four straight championships)
John Tonelli got to me first. Lorne Henning came next and then the whole bench swarmed over. But it wasn’t just the players on the Nassau Coliseum ice. It was pandemonium. Within five seconds it seemed like every fan in the building was on the ice. I’d never seen a skating rink that crowded. They were all over us. In those days the glass was low and they just hopped the glass.
“Thank God,” I thought in the middle of the celebratory team hug. “Thank God this is over.”
We didn’t want to go back to Philadelphia. We didn’t want to play another game. It was relief and then exhilaration. Once we came back down off that moment, all of a sudden you’re saying to yourself, “We won the Stanley Cup.” That’s something that we dreamt about.
But I don’t recall any of the cheering or the sounds or the noise in the building. I don’t remember the handshake line or if I ever shook any of the Flyers’ hands.
But I do know, in the pandemonium, I never got to hoist the Cup on the ice because I was doing interviews and getting hugged by fans. The next year, when we beat the Minnesota North Stars, I made sure I was first on line to take the Cup.
Our dressing room at the Coliseum also had a ton of people in there when we finally got off the ice. We drank out of the Cup. It was incredible.
We were in the room for a really long time. Most of our equipment was still on. I think we showered about two hours after the game and people were still honking when we got out of the Coliseum.
From there, we headed to Dr. Generosity’s in East Meadow. We used to go there a lot. The ownership was really fantastic. They were great fans. So we went there and we lasted until about eight o’clock in the morning. It was a little bright when we got out.
The first Cup really stands out because it’s something you dream about. I really thought they were going to break up the team in 1979 when we lost in six games to the Rangers in the semifinals.
I think it’s one of the hardest things that any sports team can do. To go through all the preliminaries and stay healthy enough and good enough to win the Stanley Cup.