Tonight, in a game that could not have been scripted any better, the Islander players, fans, coaching staff, and hall of fame alumni came together to win one more game for the legendary Al Arbour.

As the Islanders came back from a two goal deficit thanks to goals by Hunter and Satan one could not help but notice the utter joy expressed by Ted Nolan as he uncharacteristically let his emotion show behind the bench. It is apparent, however, that his joy was not for himself or for his team, but instead for head coach Al Arbour. As fulfilling as it was to see Coach Arbour smile and celebrate after each Islander goal, it was just as fulfilling to see the appreciation of his joy expressed by Nolan and his players. As Ted Nolan said during the post game press conference, Al Arbour may not have known all the players on the Islander roster this morning, but they sure knew who he was. The deference shown to Arbour by this New York Islander team dispelled the belief that many modern hockey players are not appreciative of the sport's past. That view does not apply to the inhabitants of the Islander locker room.

It is so difficult to write about an evening like this, as the game and its aftermath wrote its own story. I have never teared up when watching a hockey game until tonight. Seeing the video played after the game with touching pictures of Arbour from his earliest days as an Islander coach was overwhelming. When the music played and the shots of Arbour with a young Denis Potvin, and Arbour hugging Mike Bossy after the Isles won their first cup were shown on the jumbo screen, several current Islanders could not hold back their emotions. And as the Islanders prepared to raise the "1500" banner to the rafters tonight chants of "740" thundered down from the ol' barn. The atmosphere was so intimate, so special.

Ted Nolan, and the New York Islander organization as a whole deserve to be highly lauded. They showed great vision in coming up with this idea and great respect, professionalism, and competence in executing the practices, media relations and most notably the wonderful post game ceremony. The sellout crowd was an integral part in this evening as well, as the fans pulled the Isles through this comeback before staying to make the post game ceremony as memorable as it was. There is only one word that can be used to describe tonight. Beautiful.

Al Arbour, one of the most successful coaches in all of professional sports walked off the ice for the last time as an NHL coach tonight. He did not walk alone. He was surrounded by his loved ones, his players from the dynasty years, Ted Nolan, and the current New York Islander team. He will always be a legend, and he will always be an Islander.

He will never walk alone.

1 comment:

Tom Liodice said...

Hey was truly an incredible night to be an Islanders fan on Saturday. It was almost a surreal experience walking down the hallway after the game and having Bill Torrey, Pat LaFontaine, and Scotty Bowman at your side.

You've been missed at the games...hope to see you in the Box soon!