New York Islanders Legend Bill Torrey Dies At 83

Bill Torrey of the Florida Panthers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bill Torrey of the Florida Panthers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The first General Manager of the New York Islanders, Bill Torrey died today at the age of 83. He remains the reason that we dare to dream of a championship.

When the New York Islanders were founded in 1972, one man was trusted to build it into a winner. Bill Torrey. He’d be the one entrusted to make sure this expansion franchise would be successful. That he could make a name for a team entering the largest sports market in North America with established brands on all fronts.

Torrey succeeded in standing out from in the New York sports market and to one day own New York outright.

To do so, Torrey employed a simple solution. He’d build his team not from the scraps he’d get in the expansion draft, but through the NHL Entry Draft. Rather than try and acquire a bunch of good veterans, he’d draft young and skilled players to mold into a team.

It seems like a rather obvious solution today. You have Bill Torrey to thank for that.


He came to the New York Islanders by way of the Oakland Seals. A team that itself was still in its infancy, joining the league in 1967, just five years before the Islanders would join the league.

The Islanders, much like the Seals, had a terrible inaugural season. They had 30 points in 78 games with a 12-60-6 record, allowing 347 goals against. But again, Torrey wasn’t building through the expansion draft. He was going to use the entry draft to build his team.

From 1972 till 1977 Torrey drafted: Denis Potvin (1st in ‘73), Clark Gillies (4th in ‘74), Bryan Trottier (22nd in ‘74), and Mike Bossy (15th in ‘77). This would be Torrey’s core. They would all eventually become Hall of Famers, including Torrey.

That core would go on to become the greatest dynasty in the NHL. With four Stanley Cups in four years. They’d win 19 straight playoff series. They’d win 57% of their games in the regular season for a four year record of 183-88-49 between 1979-1983. All thanks to “The Architect.”

In our collective mourning as fans of the New York Islanders there’s nothing else to say than “thanks”. Thanks to the man that enabled us to dream with that never to be repeated dynastic run. Thanks to the man that made the impossible a reality. Thanks to the man who’s efforts allow us to dream of once again being champions. Thank you.