After reaching and winning the Stanley Cup three times the Islanders returned for a crack at number four. This time things were a little different. They were going up against a powerhouse Edmonton Oilers team.
The 1983 Oilers featured a 22-year-old Wayne Gretzky with a 71 goal and 196 point season. They had a 22-year-old Mark Messier with a 106 point season. And a 21-year-old Paul Coffey who had 29 goals and 96 points from the blueline. It was clear this was a young team ready to dominate.
But the Islanders weren’t ready to pass the baton off just yet. They didn’t just win the series against two of the best players in the league, they downright embarrassed them.
The Isles swept them in four games. The big bad Oilers, who lead the league in goals mind you, were held to just six goals in four games. Billy Smith did Billy Smith things in the series. Gretzky probably still has nightmares of Battling Billy.
It wasn’t even close. Half of the games were absolute blowouts. The impressive feat of not only winning your fourth cup in a row, not only beating the best player in the world but doing all that while sweeping them is why this ranks as the second-best Stanley Cup in team history. And could arguably be the first.
Years after losing the cup to the Islanders he recounted something the Islanders taught him in the Stanley Cup Finals. As he walked by the Isles dressing room and seeing the veteran Islanders not celebrating but healing wounds taught him what it was going to take to be a champion in the NHL.