Bob Bourne is inducted into the Islanders Hall of Fame almost 6 years ago
Born on Christmas Eve in 1976, I was too young to have vivid memories of the Dynasty years of the New York Islanders. My first recollection of the team comes in around the 1986-1987 season (Mikko Makela, what a cool name!), most notably the Easter Epic.
(Side note: Do you remember where you were during the Easter Epic? I do. I was at my friend Randy's house for a sleepover, celebrating his 10th or 11th birthday. If you remember, let's hear about it in comments.)
Regardless of how poor the product on the ice was, one thing the organization did well was celebrate the past. When Charles Wang created the Islanders Hall of Fame, we all knew who was going to be inducted, all deserving the accolade many years prior to it occurring: Mike Bossy, Billy Smith, Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies and Bobby Nystrom.
Then it was announced that Bob Bourne was going to be the next member, and I, for one, was excited. Excited that this Hall of Fame wouldn't necessarily be based on statistics alone. No, the Islanders would also be honoring those whose contributions didn't necessarily always show up in the box score, who left their indelible mark on the team and the fans.
Since Bourne's induction in 2006, there has not been another inductee. While Charles Wang has been preoccupied, with trying to improve the team while limiting his financial losses and attempting to bring his Lighthouse Project to fruition, the lack of any other members is inexcusable.
Considering the attendance at most Islander games this past season, with the team even cutting ticket prices towards the end of the season, you would think that they would have at least one of these inductions a season, since they know they could pack the house.
Islander fans are a passionate, intelligent, opinionated bunch, so if you think I missed someone, or if you think someone I named shouldn't be included, let me know.
If and when the organization does decide to remember that they have a Hall of Fame, here are five more deserving members.
Drafted by the Islanders in the fourth round of the 1976 NHL draft, Ken Morrow joined the Islanders in 1980. This came after a successful stint on a team you may have heard of, the 1980 United States Men's Hockey Team, becoming the first player in NHL history to win both an Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup in the same year.
He would become an important member of the dynasty and a fixture on the blue line, finishing his playing career with the club 10 years later an impressive plus-149.
After a short stint coaching in the minors and one year as an assistant under his former head coach, the legendary Al Arbour, Morrow has remained a vital piece of the Islanders. Currently, he serves as the team's Director of Pro Scouting. If not the Islanders Hall of Fame, Ken Morrow at least deserves a lifetime achievement award for his dedication to the franchise.
Captain of the team from 1998 until his eventual trade to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1991, Brent Sutter was arguably the heart and soul of the New York Islanders. Coming from the famed Sutter family*, Brent was the most talented, being selected by the Isles in the first round of the 1980 NHL draft.
A member of two Stanley Cup–winning teams and appearing in the Stanley Cup Finals each of his first three seasons, Sutter amassed 610 points (287 goals, 323 assists) for the club while playing a physical brand of hockey the fans ate up.
Currently the head coach of the Calgary Flames, perhaps he would have to wait until he was between coaching jobs to be able to accept the honor. With his penchant for changing jobs, that time may be upon us sooner rather then later.
*The Sutter Family has seen six brothers play in the NHL at the same time (Brent, Brian, Ron, Duane, Rich and Darryl). Two of their offspring, Brandon (son of Brent) and Brett (son of Darryl), are both currently active players in the Carolina Hurricanes organization.
The photo above says it all; the only way to stop Pierre Turgeon during his time with the Islanders was to grab his jersey and hold on for dear life. If he got loose, chances were that the Isles were about to put the biscuit in the basket and that Sneaky Pete would have something to do with it.
Acquired in a gigantic trade with the Buffalo Sabres in 1991 that saw perennial All-Star and fan favorite Pat LaFontaine leave Long Island, Turgeon ushered in a new era of Islanders hockey. His short tenure with the team reached its pinnacle during the magical 1992-1993 season, which saw a team with Stanley Cup aspirations have them crushed by one of the most cowardly acts in the history of professional sports, perpetuated by Dale Hunter.
Unceremoniously shipped off to Montreal for one of the banes of many Islander fans existences, Kirk Muller, Turgeon scored a ridiculous 340 points in only 255 games during his career in blue, orange and white.
A future member of the NHL Hall of Fame, Pierre deserves his place in Islanders history. I would argue that he not only deserves a spot in the Islanders Hall of Fame, but he should receive serious consideration for his No. 77 to hang from the rafters of Nassau Coliseum.
For many, he represented the future for a generation of fans left wondering "what if?"
Rich Pilon was intimidating. He was big, rough, tough and played with a mean streak. When you heard him speak, you did a double take, as he sounded nothing like his on-ice persona would lead you to believe he would sound.
Not the most talented player, he made up for his shortcomings with passion and heart. When he was on the ice, opposing players had to know where he was at all times, because they did not want to be blindsided by this man. You needed to brace yourself for impact.
Second on the Islanders career penalty-minute list with over 1,500, Pilon was capable enough in his own zone to play respectable defense. He would not hesitate to drop the gloves either, taking on all comers, from Bob Probert to Tie Domi and everyone in between.
Pilon is most remembered for his vicious hit on Kevin Stevens during Game 7 of the Patrick Division Finals in 1993. Stevens and Pilon collided in the corner, with Pilon's visor meeting Stevens' head. The collision left Stevens unconscious, and as his limp body fell to the ice, he landed on his face. With blood pooling around his head, Stevens left the ice on a stretcher and required immediate facial surgery. He would remain unrecognizable to friends, teammates and his family for the weeks following.
While Pilon did go on to play for the hated Rangers after his departure, he will always be remembered fondly by fans and his contributions to the team, most of which didn't appear in the box score, are undeniable.
Arguably the second best defenseman to play for the Islanders after NHL Hall of Fame member Denis Potvin, Kenny Jonsson was the most underrated player in the NHL during his eight-year Islander career.
While Stefan Persson and Tomas Jonsson may have had gaudier statistics during their Islander years, Kenny's offensive skills paired with his impeccable positional defense makes him a more complete player. Soft spoken, he was an unlikely choice of captain in 2000, relinquishing the title in 2001 to Michael Peca shortly after his arrival.
After suffering a string of concussions, Jonsson returned home to Sweden after the 2003-2004 season at the age of 29. Had he not suffered the concussions, he very likely could have continued playing at a high level for another four or five years.