The Iconic NY Islanders Sports Illustrated Cover Photos Through the Years

New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs / Graig Abel/GettyImages
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Yesterday was a sad day in the sports media world, as nearly all of Sports Illustrated's writers received layoff letters from what was once the standard of the sports writing world.

The magazine has been in circulation since August 16, 1954 - 18 years before the NY Islanders' existence, when Eddie Mathews of the Milwaukee Braves and NY Giants catcher Wes Westrun graced the cover of the first-ever issue. But now, after over 4,000 issues, it appears as if the magazine's nearly 80-year run is coming to an end.

For those of a younger generation before a time of instant news at your fingertips, seeing your copy of Sports Illustrated in the mailbox was one of the week's highlights. Scanning the pages, which included the best photos and quality of writing regardless of the topic, was the way sports fans absorbed knowledge before the days of social media.

Even for those who were too young to have a subscription of their own, there was SI for Kids, which brought sports to life for kids, with the culmination being the perforated page at the middle of the magazine, which could be turned into trading cards.

The hockey world has graced the cover of SI 100 times since 1954, with the Islanders receiving the honor four times. It's been almost 40 years since we've last seen an Islander on the cover page, with Mike Bossy being the most recent. While not having the cover to themselves, the Isles were part of the 1983 Year in Sports cover and were put in the corner of the April 27, 1987 edition, highlighting the Easter Epic.

Through SI Vault, every issue can be viewed from cover to cover, including all of the funny, old advertisements. With SI's time possibly coming to an end, we look back on all four times Islanders have bestowed the honor of SI cover athlete.

The New Sharpshooters (December 12, 1977)

A few years before the Islanders dynasty began, the league began taking notice of the young Islanders superstars Bossy and Bryan Trottier. On the day of publication, the Isles were 28 games into the 1977-78 season, with a record of 15-6-7 (the third number stood for ties for those too young to remember).

Author Jerry Kirshenbaum illustrates that Bossy, the 20-year-old rookie suffered a pulled hamstring at practices, and endured some friendly chirps from 21-year-old partner in crime Trottier as he laid on the ice. "What'd you do, Mike, trip over the blue line?" joked Trottier.

While Bossy has always been known as "Mike," Kirshenbaum details the confusion around Bossy's name on draft day and early in his career. Growing up in Montreal, Bossy is part Ukranian and part British. The French media often referred to the goal scorer as "Michel," believing that was the proper pronunciation of the QMJHL sniper. The Islanders even drafted him under the name "Michel Bossy." It took two months into his rookie campaign to correct the organization on the proper spelling of his name.

Known for his scoring accrument while in juniors, totaling 529 points in 260 games with the Laval National in the QMJHL, Bossy admits that defense wasn't always a point of emphasis while playing in juniors.

"I was lazy on defense in the juniors," Bossy tells SI. "It hurt my pride to go only 15th in the draft, and I've been working on my checking."

The Great Defender (April 16, 1979)

The first time the Isles reached the cover of SI, it was the forwards who were highlighted. A year and a half later, it was the next next great defenseman in Denis Potvin who received the spotlight.

Author William Knack, spends most of the article discussing the comparissons to Bobby Orr that Potvin faced during his time in juniors and early days in the NHL. Before the future four-time Stanley Cup champion's time in the NHL, the only other defenseman people had seen with such offensive prowess was Orr, so there were bound to be comparisons. Being compared to one of the greatest of all time, even at the junior level, was a demanding weight for Potvin to carry.

"Anytime I did something in the juniors, I heard 'Orr did it...Orr did it...Orr did it,'" Potvin told SI. "It was a heck of a compliment, but after a while you say, 'But I did it...I did it!' It was tough. I let it get to me for a long time."

Potvin of course lived up to the expectations, but there was a time he even ruffled some of his teammates feathers with the comparisons to Orr. Nack unravels that Potvin wrote a piece in The Canadian after the 1976 Canada Cup, insisting that he deserved to be named MVP over Orr.

Goaltender Chico Resch describes how furious he was with Potvin over what was said about one of the game's greatest players.

"There was just no reason on earth to say the things that Denis said about Orr," Resch said. "I was so mad at him I could hardly talk to him. It was Orr's last hurrah, and all the players knew it. Denny was going to have many more chances."

While Potvin's play was highlighted as nothing but spectacular in this SI edition, it's interesting to see the other side people saw in the Islanders captain before all of his cups and hall-of-fame career.

The Puck Stops Here (May 23, 1983)

It was the fourth Stanley Cup victory in a row for the Isles, shutting down the young, high-flying Edmonton Oilers. Led by Wayne Gretzky, the Oilers dominated the competition to this point in the playoffs, as they came up against the three-time defending champions.

A team loaded with offensive talent like Bossy, Trottier, and Potvin, goaltender Billy Smith was the talking point for the Oilers. As we all know, Smith was one of the most physical goaltenders of all time, using his goalie stick as a weapon from his crease.

After a Game 1 victory by the Isles, Oilers head coach Glen Sather made Smith's antics a talking point. According to author E.M. Smith, Sather demanded a meeting with John McCauley, the league's assistant director of officiating, to discuss Smith's slash on forward Glenn Anderson. Sather, getting nowhere with McCauley, took his issues to the press instead.

"Smith plays like a maniac," said Staher. "He swings that stick around like a hatchet, and if the referees don't stop it, hopefully, we'll have someone on our club who will eliminate the problem."

Smith was unhappy with Sather's choice of words and responded with some of his own and Gretzky as the subject.

"Let's face it. If [Dave] Semenko runs at me and hurts me, anything could happen, and the victim could be Gretzky. If they want blood..."

Words that would surely go punished in today's NHL became part of the story line in 1983, as a matchup between the leagues top two teams became a war.

The Isles of course swept the Oilers to win their fourth and final ring, sending the Oilers a message of how they'd need to play if they hoped to become the league's next dynasty.

The Drive For Five (May 14, 1984)

This a saying we've all heard since 1984, as it's the year The Drive For Five began. Stanley Cup champions four years in a row, the Islanders were entering their fifth straight cup final after winning 19 straight playoff series.

Playing far more games than any other team over five years, the Isles were beaten up, with author E.M. Smith, in his first paragraph, comparing Clark Gillies's face to a topographical map of the Laurentians mountain range in Quebec.

The physicality of the Islanders in the '80s was unmatched, willing to go toe-to-toe with any opponent.

The Isles had just defeated the Montreal Canadiens to reach their fifth consecutive final, but winning the first three rounds didn't come as easy in years past. The Isles weren't as dominant as they'd been between 1980-1983, but their experience when it mattered most helped carry them to the cusp of a fifth straight cup.

"We've had to struggle in the playoffs from Game 1 this year," Al Arbour told SI. "We've had adversity in all departments. You name it, we've had it."

After the Isles defeated the Habs in six games, Hal of Fame head coach Jacques Lemaire said of the Isles. "They'll win it [the Stanley Cup] because they're the best team in America. They were too strong for us. They're good all over."

The Isles lost to the Oilers in the 1984 Stanley Cup Finals as the Edmonton organization said it took losing to the Islanders in 1983 to figure out that you had to leave everything you had on ice if you want to become a champion.