Earl Ingarfield Sr. wasn't the first New York Islanders coach in franchise history, but he was the one to finish the team's inaugural season behind the bench. Ingarfield was General Manager Bill Torrey's Western scout for the Islanders in 1972 when he replaced Phil Goyette, the team's first head coach, with 30 games left to play in the regular season.
The expansion franchise was 6-38-4 in 48 games under Goyette, a former player for the New York Rangers who had never led a team before being named the first coach in Isles history. Torrey fired his first head coach hire and persuaded Ingarfield Sr. to fill the void. “There's so much to do," Torrey quipped when asked what the then 38-year-old could bring the struggling first-year franchise. Ingarfield coached the final 30 games of the season, fairing slightly better than his predecessor, finishing 6-22-2.
Former NY Islanders head coach and scout Earl Ingarfield Sr. receives honor
His time with the Islanders was a footnote in Ingarfield's career, and on Sunday, the 88-year-old was inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame for a life filled with contributions to the game.
Ingarfield Sr. played for the Rangers for nine seasons from 1958-1967 and then was the first player selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1967 expansion draft. He was later named captain of the Pens for the 1968-69 season.
After the 1972-73 season, Ingarfield Sr. was not retained as head coach. Torrey's next choice for head coach, Al Arbour, turned into one of the greatest head coaches in professional sports history, coaching 1,500 games for the Islanders and leading them to four consecutive Stanley Cups.
To his credit, Ingarfield Sr. played a role in creating the Islanders dynasty. After that inaugural season, he stayed on for two more years as a scout, as the team drafted future Hall-of-Famers Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies, and Bryan Trottier.
“It was very special after when it happened and then how they all turned out,” he said.
It sure was.