Updated October 2018.
The New York Islanders joined the NHL in 1972. It was expected they would be called the Long Island Ducks after a former local club. Instead, the team reviewed the names considered for the New York Mets. One of the top submissions was ‘Islanders.’
After years of regular season success, the Islanders finally broke through with the club’s first Stanley Cup in 1980. They went on to win four consecutive championships with Bryan Trottier, Butch Goring, Mike Bossy and goaltender Billy Smith all winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVPs during their run. The Isles’ dynasty came to an end in 1984, when they lost to the up-and-coming Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers also ended New York’s 19-series playoff winning streak, the longest in all of professional sports.
In 1988-89, the Isles faced their first losing season in 15 years, missing the playoffs for the first time since the franchise’s second year.
New York made a surprising run to the Conference Final in 1992-93, upsetting the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins before losing to the Montreal Canadiens. The team struggled to repeat its Cinderella run, with only five playoff appearances over the next 20 seasons, all resulting in first-round eliminations. The Islanders also made some questionable moves, including trading away future all-stars Zdeno Chara and Roberto Luongo and signing Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro to lengthy deals that both ended in buyouts.
John Tavares, drafted first overall in 2009, helped rejuvenate the franchise. In 2013, he finished third in the league in goal scoring, helping the Isles to their first playoff berth in six years. Since then, the Islanders have made the playoffs in three of their last five seasons – the most recent of which was at their new home in Brooklyn, New York. The Islanders did not qualify in 2017, despite finishing the season with an impressive 24-12-4 record.
Winds of change blew into Brooklyn in the summer of 2018, as former New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello and recent Stanley Cup-winning head coach Barry Trotz were signed in an attempt to keep free-agent-to-be Tavares on the roster, but it was a failed endeavor. Tavares signed with the Maple Leafs while the Islanders are hoping young stars Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier can fill the back of the net enough to make up for their superstar loss.
Feature photo courtesy Mel | Flickr
This post produced in collaboration with Josh Smith, managing editor of ScoutingTheRefs.com.
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