The New York Islanders are nearing their 50th anniversary as a franchise in the NHL. The organization has gone through the highest highs to the lowest lows but through it all, the fans have stuck around, emerging as a loyal, passionate group. With the team being as old as it is, many fans are unaware of much of the history of this franchise besides the Dynasty era.
This team has had so much more occur than just four Stanley Cups and throughout the remainder of the offseason I’ll be taking a look at the ten greatest seasons for the Islanders. This series will be focused on the ten most memorable seasons for the Islanders throughout their history and not just by points and results. Each part will have two or three seasons ranked, with the finale focused on the greatest season in Islanders history.
Playoffs: Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Loss vs #1 Pittsburgh 4-2
Coach: Jack Capuano
GM: Garth Snow
Starting off our list with a more recent season, the 2012-13 season was shortened due to the lockout that year and began in January. The Islanders that season were predicted to be in the basement of the Atlantic, and when the season kicked off it looked like the trend of the Islanders being a bottom feeder would continue. That was until March 22, when the Islanders began an insane run that pushed them into contention.
The John Tavares and Matt Moulson led Islanders, a team that managed to get points in 14 of 15 games and punch themselves a playoff ticket for the first time since 2006-07. The Islanders first round opponent was the best team in the East, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders were picked by basically everyone to get swept aside, but the fight that this team had in April continued into the playoffs. After four games the series was tied 2-2 and the barn was rocking like it did decades prior.
Unfortunately luck ran out for the Islanders as Pittsburgh went on to win in six games, but this season was crucial for the future of the franchise. A team that was projected to do nothing got into the playoffs and the bottom feeder narrative on Long Island had begun to change. The team had tasted success and playoff hockey, which was critical for future runs. The new era of Islanders hockey truly began with this team: a scrappy bunch of guys who made the Islanders drive for something they haven’t tasted in years, a Stanley Cup.
Coaches: Earl Ingarfield, Phil Goyette
GM: Bill Torrey
1972. The World Hockey Association is planning on moving their new flagship team, the New York Raiders, into Nassau Coliseum. This was to be the team that carried the WHA into relevance and bring the league to legitimacy. Nassau County executives wanted none of that as they believed the WHA was far from being a legitimate professional sports league, and contacted William Shea to get another team for New York like he did the Mets. Seeing the opportunity to kill any hope for the WHA, the NHL hastily awarded Roy Boe, also owner of the Nets, a team which was to be named the New York Islanders.
While the offseason for this team is one never to forget, the regular season is something you want to forget. The Islanders had the worst season in their franchise history going 12-60-6 with the only highlight being an upset vs the defending champs, the Boston Bruins. Young players were also given an opportunity to develop like Bobby Nystrom and Billy Smith as both began the first season of their historic careers. The team was not great, firing coach Earl Ingarfield halfway through the season, but at the same time, this was the first stage of the eventual dynasty to come. Bill Torrey would hire Al Arbour during the offseason along with drafting a certain Denis Potvin, highlight the greatness that was to come.
Be on the lookout for our next rankings and as always, use code drive4five on SeatGeek for $20 off your first purchase!