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.