Islanders: Best Player To Wear Number 8
By Matt O'Leary
Continuing our best of series, today we will look at the best player to wear number eight for the New York Islanders in their history.
Since the New York Islanders came into existence, 17 players have worn the number eight for the blue and orange. The first to ever do it was Don Blackburn in 1973. Some other notables are Garry Howatt, Steve Webb, Tomi Pettinen, Griffin Reinhart, and Noah Dobson.
Of this list, the honorable mention has to be Garry Howatt. Howatt was with the Islanders from 1973-1981 after being selected in the 10th round of the 1972 NHL Draft.
In nine years with the Isles, he played 596 games putting up 213 points along the way. His best season came in 1974-1975 when he had 48 points (18 goals, 30 assists) on the season. Three times, he was over 200 penalty minutes with the Islanders in a season as he was a winger who was fairly physical.
Despite the two rings, the best player to ever wear number eight for the Isles has to be Jeff Norton. Norton was a third-round pick in the 1984 draft by the Isles and he made his NHL debut in 1987-1988.
In his first full season in the league he had 31 points from the blue line as a 23-year-old. The next year would be his best in his 15-year career. Norton had 53 points for the Islanders that season in 60 games. Injuries, unfortunately, derailed his 1991 and 1992 season as he played a combined 72 games over those two years.
In the famous 1993 Islanders season, which saw them reach the Conference final after coming back against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Norton was one of the better Islanders defensemen. He had 50 points that year and was relatively healthy as he played in 66 games.
On June 20, 1993, the Islanders decided to trade Noeron for a 1994 third-round pick which turned into Jason Strudwick. In 282 career games with the Islanders he finished with 188 points (22 goals, 166 assists).
Norton would be an NHL career journeyman playing on eight teams over a decade and a half staying no longer than his six-year stint with the Isles.