Al Arbour, Former Islanders Coach, Dies at Age 82

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2015

New York Islanders coach Al Arbour celebrates in the locker room as he drinks from the Stanley Cup after the Islanders won their fourth cup in a row, beating the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 to sweep the series at the Nassau Coliseum, Tuesday, May 17, 1983 in Uniondale, N.Y. (AP Photo/Pool)
Unknown/Associated Press

Legendary New York Islanders coach Al Arbour, who led the franchise to four straight Stanley Cups starting in 1980, has died at the age of 82.

The Islanders confirmed the news Friday. Team president and general manager Garth Snow talked about the lasting impact Arbour had on the organization.

Al will always be remembered as one of, if not the, greatest coaches ever to stand behind a bench in the history of the National Hockey League. The New York Islanders franchise has four Stanley Cups to its name, thanks in large part to Al's incredible efforts. From his innovative coaching methods, to his humble way of life away from the game, Al is one of the reasons the New York Islanders are a historic franchise. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to the entire Arbour family.

Arbour started his playing career as a defenseman with the Detroit Hettche of the IHL in 1949, according to HockeyDB. He reached the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings during the 1953-54 season before making stops with the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues.

He finished his career with 12 goals, 58 assists and 617 penalty minutes across 626 NHL games. As his playing career ended with the Blues, he transitioned into the role of head coach.

The Sudbury, Ontario, native didn't find immediate success behind the bench. He made the playoffs just once in three seasons with St. Louis before leaving to join the Islanders. His coaching career proceeded to take off in New York.

By the time he stepped away from the game after the 1993-94 season, he had led the Islanders to 15 playoff appearances in 19 seasons and the aforementioned four championships. He returned for a one-game cameo in 2007 to coach his 1,500th game with the team, which ended in another victory.

Ray Ferraro of TSN is one of the many players who had their careers influenced by "Radar":

Ray Ferraro @rayferrarotsn

Have so many thoughts on passing of Al Arbour. So sad, he impacted my career, life deeply. Rest peacefully Al, prayers to Claire and family

Arbour was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996. He still ranks second in wins as an NHL head coach with 782, behind only Scotty Bowman.

His hockey career spanned six different decades—seven if you count his ceremonial return eight years ago— as both a player and a coach. The run his Islanders teams put together in the early 1980s stands above the rest and is something the NHL may never see again.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.