The 5 most devastating injuries in NY Islanders history

New Jersey Devils v New York Islanders
New Jersey Devils v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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If you are a New York Jets fan, you have likely long thought that your team was cursed and that whatever could go wrong, would go wrong. That intuition came true again on Monday night when future hall-of-fame quarterback turned Jets savior Aaron Rodgers left the game during the first drive of the game. On Tuesday, an MRI confirmed, what we already knew, that Rodgers had ruptured his Achilles tendon ending his 2023 season and potentially Jets and NFL career after four snaps.

Buffalo Bills v New York Jets
Buffalo Bills v New York Jets / Michael Owens/GettyImages

This obviously is a huge blow to Gang Green after the team was able to acquire the newly-motivated Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers in April, which turned them into a force in the AFC and a potential Super Bowl contender. Fans and pundits have thought that this was the best Jets roster in decades - and they looked to be right. All those best-laid plans ended before Rodgers could complete a pass. It's something that will take days, if not weeks, to process.

New York fans know plenty of devastating injuries for all of their teams. An all-time great such as Jacob deGrom always found himself on the IL for the Mets; then you have Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden barely playing together at all for the Brooklyn Nets in their short collaboration, and Giancarlo Stanton, along with plenty of other Yankees players can't seem to stay healthy in recent memory.

If you're a Jets fan, there's a chance you are an Islanders fan, too, which means you know the Isles have not been exempt from suffering season-altering injuries. It's hard to say that the Islanders or any sports franchise experienced what the Jets did on Monday night, but here is a list of the five most devastating injuries in Islanders history.

Anders Lee 2020-21 season: Torn ACL

The most recent example of a huge loss to the Isles' lineup was when Anders Lee tore his ACL in March of 2021 against the New Jersey Devils. Lee was the leading goal scorer at the time for the team during the pandemic-shortened season with 12 goals.

Even though Lee obviously had to get surgery, he reportedly started skating about a month after he got the operation, pushing his limits to the absolute max in an attempt to return before next season. The other reason was the captain being able to work out under his condition and lighting a fire in his teammates while doing so.

People watch. You see him working every day, pushing himself to exhaustion, it has influence. If there was even a 0.00001 percent chance he could play in the playoffs, he was going to be ready for it. I really feel it sent a strong message to our team.

Barry Trotz on Lee

Nevertheless, this would prove to be a big blow for the Isles but could have ended worse for the team that was coming off of an impressive Eastern Conference Finals run in the 2020 playoff bubble. At the trade deadline, the Islanders acquired Kyle Palmieri to fill the hole that Lee's injury left, which ended up being exactly what they needed to get back to the conference finals, only to lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the second straight season.

Out of all five injuries we are mentioning, this proved to be the least costly towards what could have been a Stanley Cup Finals appearance for the blue and orange. Yes, they did not make it in the end, but they at least had to opportunity to bring in Palmieri as a replacement to get that close again, and he ended up being more than that when he re-signed in the offseason.

Pierre Turgeon 1993 Playoffs: Separated Shoulder

When Islanders fans think of the word cheap shot, this is the moment that comes to mind for those that witnessed it.

In 1992-93, the Isles were a Cinderella story getting into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season and were up three games to one in their first-round series against the Washington Capitals. After Pierre Turgeon put the Islanders up 5-1 in game six by stealing the puck from Dale Hunter, Hunter's rationality left his head, and decided to take out his frustrations on the team's star player, separating his shoulder in the process.

The Isles may have been a Cinderella team that season, but Turgeon was unquestionably one of the best players in the league in the highest-scoring season in NHL history. The newly-named 2023 Hockey Hall-of-Fame inductee scored 58 goals and 132 points that year, his best statistical season by far. He would then miss most of the next-round series against the reigning two-time Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, besides playing some power play minutes in game seven. The Islanders ultimately won that game in overtime in one of the greatest upsets in NHL playoff history, with part of that claim being due to Turgeon's absence.

New York lost to the eventual champion Montreal Canadiens in the Wales Conference Finals in five games, part of the reason due to Turgeon clearly not looking like the same player before the injury. Dale Hunter would be suspended 20 games by the NHL going into the next season, the longest suspension ever handed out at the time. That was the final long playoff run in legendary coach Al Arbour's career as well, and the Isles would not win another playoff series until 23 years later. Unfortunately, this injury still leaves Islanders fans today thinking what could have been in a magical 1993 run.

John Tavares 2014 Winter Olympic Games: Torn MCL and Meniscus

The 2013-14 campaign was a lost season, to say the least for the New York Islanders. A big reason for that was the lack of overall talent on the team, along with a few players who openly did not want to be there any more such as Thomas Vanek and Andrew MacDonald. The biggest reason, however, was when John Tavares suffered a torn MCL and meniscus in his right knee during the 2014 Winter Olympics while playing for Team Canada. Considering most of those games were shown early in the morning in the Eastern Time zone, this was a brutal wake-up for many young Islanders fans who just lost their best player for the year.

At the time, Tavares was third in the NHL in goals and points and was having what still remains as his best season points-per-game wise to this day, with 24 goals and 66 points in 59 games. The Islanders would end up waiving the white flag by the trade deadline and decided to sell players on expiring deals, specifically MacDonald and Vanek. When looking closer at the Vanek acquisition, the Isles acquired him from the Buffalo Sabres in an attempt to put a star winger next to Tavares, albeit with Vanek being past his prime, and they traded a first and second-round pick along with Matt Moulson, who made a name as one of JT's best linemates on Long Island. The Isles then sold Vanek for basically just a second-round pick at the deadline, making this a massive disaster for New York.

Making this situation even more of a disaster is the fact that the Islanders finished with the 5th worst record in the NHL that season, landing them the 5th overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft. They ended up selecting Michael Dal Colle with that pick, who now no longer plays in the league and never lived up to anywhere near his potential. Catastrophic injury to say the least in recent memory.

Michael Peca 2002 Playoffs: Torn ACL

Another dirty hit that Islanders fans have to remember during a surprisingly successful season in 2001-02. This season was a huge turnaround for the franchise after missing the playoffs every season since 1993-94, which can be attributed to many key additions such as first time head coach Peter Laviolette, Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Chris Osgood, even Alexei Yashin, and the great leadership of captain Michael Peca.

The Isles finished 5th in the Eastern Conference, which meant they had to face a strong Toronto Maple Leafs team in the first round. Darcy Tucker, one of the more infamous agitators in NHL lore, was one of the most aggressive players in the series, even threatening him and at one point trying to fight Peca early in the series, to which he refused. However, in game five Tucker took it too far, low-bridging Peca with a hip check and upending him after he had gotten rid of the puck, which ended up tearing his ACL. He did exactly what he said he would do, and faced zero discipline.

This low hit even inspired a rule change, making "clipping" a penalty when any part of a player's body is thrown below another player's knees to take them down. Notably, the Islanders also lost their best all-around defenseman Kenny Jonsson in the same game due to a hit from behind by Gary Roberts along the boards, giving him a concussion, and did not play the rest of the series. Toronto won game five, with Tucker also scoring a goal, and the series lasted until game seven which the Islanders ultimately lost. Another instance where fans have to wonder if they could have advanced with their best players healthy.

Mike Bossy 1987-88: Chronic Back Injury

Not only did the late Mike Bossy, unfortunately, have to deal with being targeted in his entire career due to both his smaller size and amazing goal-scoring abilities on the ice, but he always had to deal with back issues for the latter season of his career, forcing him to retire at the young age of 30.

Even though Bossy only played in 10 NHL seasons, he is still widely considered one of the best, if not the best player to ever don the blue and orange. In every season except for his last, he scored at least 50 goals which is an NHL record he shares with Wayne Gretzky, and scored over 60 goals five times. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1981-82 when he led the playoff with 17 goals, which was the third of four consecutive championship seasons for the Islanders. He finished his career with 573 goals and 1,126 points in just 752 games, holding the all-time record for average goals-per-game at .762. Even in his final injury-hampered season, Bossy still scored 38 goals and scored his final goal in the second round of the 1987 playoffs.

I didn't want to be ordinary. I didn't want to only play half of the games because of my bad back. Not playing the way that I knew I could just discouraged me to the point where I said I'm not going to play anymore.
Mike Bossy

If Bossy wasn't forced to retire, there is reason to believe he could have been a top 10 player in NHL history in everyone's mind, not just some. Bossy even finished with the third-highest points per game mark in league history behind Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, who also had his legendary career shortened due to injuries and cancer. Statistically speaking, Bossy could have easily threatened the 2,000-point mark over a full career, and there's a solid chance he could have finished with even more goals in his career than Gretzky, who holds the current all-time record at 894.

Bossy is one of a few NHL all-time greats that had his hall-of-fame career cut far too short with so much promise even entering his latter years, with names such as Lemieux and Bobby Orr coming to mind. Nevertheless, Long Island was lucky to be able to call the legendary right winger their own for the short amount of time that they could.

Honorable Mention

Rick DiPietro tweaks hip at All-Star Skills competition

Rick DiPietro made 63 appearances during the 2007-08 season, the third consecutive year he topped the 60 games mark, but a fluke injury started a quick and painful descent due to injuries. In December of that year, DP sprained his knee during a pre-game warmup and missed three games.

Then, at the 2008 All-Star weekend in Atlanta, his lone All-Star appearance, he tweaked his hip, one that he had already had arthroscopic surgery on while stopping shootouts during the skills competition. DiPietro played through pain the rest of the regular season but then decided to end his year early with nine games remaining in the season, and elected to have another surgery, finishing the year with a 28-28-0-7 record and 2.82 GAA.

He only appeared in 50 more games in his entire NHL career.