Earlier this week, new Buffalo Sabres assistant coach Bryan Trottier revealed that his former bench boss, legendary Isles coach Al Arbour, is suffering from dementia.
“We love the man. Today, he’s going through a little tough time with dementia right now,” Trottier explained, per Buffalo’s WGR Radio. “We all love Al for all the great times we’ve had together and his leadership.”
Arbour, 81, coached the Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups in the early 1980s and his 782 career wins are second only to Scotty Bowman on the all-time list. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.
Trottier isn’t the only Sabres coach with a special affinity for Arbour. Current bench boss Ted Nolan put forth a tremendous gesture while coaching the Islanders during the 2007-08 campaign. From the Buffalo News:
Nolan always noticed the signage that honored Al Arbour’s 1,499 games as Islanders coach. During a meeting with owner Charles Wang, Nolan suggested they improve that number by one.
So on Nov. 3, 2007, Arbour accepted an invitation from Nolan and coached on a one-day contract. He led New York to a 3-2 comeback victory over Pittsburgh.
“That whole night, it was kind of like standing behind the bench with Toe Blake, Vince Lombardi. Al’s a legend,” Nolan reminisced. “To see the way the people reacted and see the game the way it went, to come back and tie up Pittsburgh, 2-2, and all of a sudden beat them, 3-2, it was one of those magical nights I’ll always remember.”