Celebrating 50 years of NY Islanders Hockey With the All-Decade Team: 1972-1981

1980 NHL Stanley Cup Finals - Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders
1980 NHL Stanley Cup Finals - Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders / Focus On Sport/GettyImages
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With training camp right around the corner, the organization and the fans are preparing to celebrate the fifth decade of NY Islanders hockey. It has been a roller coaster of emotions for everyone associated with the organization, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.

This season will be a celebration of the franchise as we remember the great moments and great players through the past 50 years.

Here, we will have our celebration of 50 years, naming the best player at each position for each decade. From the dynasty era to the fishstick era, to the present day, each period has had some sort of lasting memory, and we intend to look back on each of those.

Once we've finished each all-decade team, we will select the top line-up, constructed of one player from each decade.

We begin with the first ten years of Islanders hockey, from the inaugural season to the beginning of the dynasty era of the early 80s. The organization won two of its four Stanley Cups in its first decade of existence in 1980 and 1981.

*Note: A player cannot be named in multiple all-decade teams. for example, Mike Bossy cannot be selected for 1972-1981 and 1982-1991.

C- Bryan Trottier

New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs / Graig Abel/GettyImages

One of the most recognizable figures to ever lace up the skates for the Islanders, Bryan Trottier was one of the driving forces behind the success the Islanders encountered in the 70s and 90s.

Trottier was a second-round pick of the Islanders back in 1974, making his NHL debut two years later. Following his rookie campaign where he accrued 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists), Trottier was awarded the Calder Trophy, given to the league's top rookie.

Trottier's rookie season was only a sign of things to come as he became one of the all-time statistical leaders in Islanders' history.

After spending 15 seasons in the blue and orange, Trottier would accumulate 500 goals (second in franchise history) and 853 assists (most in franchise history) for a total of 1,353 points (most in franchise history). He is also one of eight players in NHL history to score five goals in a game multiple times.

Trottier's most impressive season was during his record-setting 1978-78 campaign. The Val Marie, SK native finished with 47 goals and 87 assists (most in Islanders' single-season history) for a total of 134 points. His contributions earned him the Art Ross Trophy for the most points scored throughout the season and the Hart Trophy for the MVP of the NHL.

Aside from his four Stanley Cups with the Islanders, Trottier was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for the MVP of the playoffs following the club's first title in 1980.

In 1997 Trottier was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame. Additionally, in 2001 Trottier was memorialized in Islanders lore when his number 19 was lifted to the rafters.

LW- Clark Gillies

New York Islanders v Philadelphia Flyers
New York Islanders v Philadelphia Flyers / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

The original enforcer for the Islanders, Clark Gillies, can be considered the watchdog that allowed the skillful Islanders to play freely without having any liberties taken. Aside from being the muscle of the group, Gillies was just as talented with the puck as he was with his fists.

The fourth overall pick in 1974 topped the 30-goal mark five times during his 12 seasons at Nassau Coliseum, with his best coming in the 1978-79 season, scoring 35 goals and adding 56 assists.

As one of the members of the "Trio Grande," Gillies spent his best years playing alongside Trottier and Bossy. "Jethro" as he was known, cleared the way for the two dynamic scorers, using his fists of fury to take care of anybody who dared to step in their paths.

The Moose Jaw, SK native finished his Islanders career with 304 goals and 359 assists. He would be left unprotected following the 1985-86 season and was claimed by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL Waiver Draft. After a season and a half in Western New York, Gillies called it a career. His number nine was retired by the Islanders in 1996 and inducted to the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 2002.

On January 21, 2022, Gillies passed away following his battle with cancer. He was 67 years old.

RW- Bobby Nystrom

1980 NHL Stanley Cup Finals - Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders
1980 NHL Stanley Cup Finals - Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

As one of the most clutch performers in the history of the Islanders, Bobby Nystrom earned the nickname "Mr. Islander" for his playoff performances during crunch time. Five times Nystrom scored the overtime game-winner for the Isles, including his cup-clinching goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in 1980.

"It was a great moment, I always think of it as I thank God for putting me in that position and given the opportunity to do something for my teammates that we all wanted to do. I was thrilled, and I couldn't do it for a better group of guys."
Bobby Nystrom

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Nystrom was one of the first European-born players to lift Lord Stanley's cup. One of the club's original draft picks, Nystrom, was selected in the third round of the 1972 draft.

Nystrom never had the same success offensively that some of the names in the rafters surrounding him achieved. His most productive season was in 1978-79 when he managed 59 points (30 goals, 29 assists). Nystrom was known more for his solid two-way game as he was equally effective in the defensive zone as Trottier was in the offensive.

Spending his entire career only playing for the Islanders, Nystrom had his number retired during the 1995 season. Since his retirement, Nystrom has remained active in the Long Island community and continues to earn his "Mr. Islander" nickname.

D- Denis Potvin

NHL Stanley Cup Finals - Minnesota North Stars v New York Islanders
NHL Stanley Cup Finals - Minnesota North Stars v New York Islanders / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

It can be argued that since his debut in 1973, no defenseman has had as much overall success as Denis Potvin. The first overall pick in 1973, Potvin would make an immediate impact with the Islanders. Finishing his rookie season with 54 points (17 goals, 37 assists), Potvin was the victor of that season's Calder Trophy.

In 1976, Potvin broke one of hockey's most impressive streaks when he won the Norris Trophy for the league's best defenseman. Previously, Bobby Orr had won the award eight consecutive seasons until passing the proverbial torch to the Ottawa, ON, native. He went on to win an additional two Norris Trophies in 1978 and 1979.

In the franchise's 50 seasons of hockey, Potvin remains the only player to be handed the Stanley Cup by the league's commissioner. He captained all four of the organization's Stanley Cup victories. As he played alongside some of the all-time greats, Potvin was never named the Conn Smythe winner.

When Potvin called it a career in 1988, he was first in all-time goals, assists, and points among defensemen. He now stands at number seven in defenseman points.

Like Nystrom, Potvin spent his entire career on Long Island and had his number retired in 1992. he is a member of the Hockey Hall-of-Fame, inducted in 1991.

D- Stefan Persson

Persson Vs. Johnstone
Persson Vs. Johnstone / Melchior DiGiacomo/GettyImages

One of the unsung heroes of the Islanders cup runs, Stefan Persson was an integral part of the team's blue line.

In each of his first four seasons with the Islanders, Persson found himself finishing second of the team in points among defensemen behind Potvin. His 1979 season earned him top-10 voting for the Norris Trophy, ultimately won by Potvin.

As well as Persson played in the offensive end, he was equally if not more impressive in his own end. On his way to helping the Isles to their first Stanley Cup in 1980, Persson added five goals during the playoffs and was under consideration to win the Con Smythe, which would have made him the first Swede to do so. Along with Nystrom, Persson was the first European-trained player to win the Stanley Cup.

Persson spent all nine of his NHL seasons playing for the Islanders. In 1986 Persson was traded to the Winnipeg Jets. He was so distraught about being shipped to Winnipeg that Persson ultimately decided he was better off retiring from the NHL altogether and returning to play in Sweden.

G- Glenn "Chico" Resch

New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins
New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins / George Gojkovich/GettyImages

Still, one of the greatest Islanders to even step into the crease, Glenn "Chico" Resch, was the first to dominate between the pipes since the club's inception in 1972.

Resch appeared in seven seasons with the Islanders from 1973-1981. Even though it was his third different season appearing in the blue and orange, Resch was named runner-up for the Calder Trophy in 1976, losing out to teammate Bryan Trottier. It would be his most successful season in his career, posting a record of 23-11-8, with a .928 SV% and 2.07 GAA.

During the 1979-80 season, Resch would lose control of his crease to the great Billy Smith. He would back up Smith during the club's first cup victory in 1980. The following season he would be traded to the Colorado Rockies.

Next. 11 nationally televised games for the NY Islanders in 2022-23. dark