Al Arbour, the second-winningest coach in NHL history, died on Friday at the age of 82.
Arbour is best known for leading the Islanders dynasty teams of the late 70s and early 80s to four consecutive Stanley Cup championships, and for trailing only Scotty Bowman for the league’s all-time mark in wins (782) and games coached (1,607).
“Al will always be remembered as one of, if not, the greatest coaches ever to stand behind a bench in the history of the National Hockey League,” Islanders President and General Manager Garth Snow said in a statement. “The New York Islanders franchise has four Stanley Cups to its name, thanks in large part to Al’s incredible efforts.
“From his innovative coaching methods, to his humble way of life away from the game, Al is one of the reasons the New York Islanders are a historic franchise. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to the entire Arbour family.”
Arbour’s coaching days came after a fairly distinguished playing career in which he won a pair of Stanley Cups — one with Chicago, and one with Toronto. Arbour also went down in history as the first-ever captain of the St. Louis Blues and the last player to wear glasses while playing, with those spectacles eventually becoming part of his signature look.
It is on Long Island where Arbour really made his mark, however.
After his stellar run, quartet of championships and an amazing streak of 19 straight playoff series wins, he retired from coaching to take a front office position with New York in ’86, only to return to the bench a few years later.
Arbour’s second stint coaching the Isles was highlighted by the playoff run in ’93, in which the team knocked off Washington and the Mario Lemieux-led Penguins before bowing out to Montreal.
In 2007 — at the age of 75 — Arbour returned to the Islanders’ bench one final time, in order to hit 1,500 games coached with the organization. Fittingly, New York won, 3-2 over Pittsburgh — and to honor the achievement, the club raised a new banner to the rafters in Arbour’s honor.
Arbor captured the Jack Adams as NHL coach of the year in 1979, the Lester Patrick Trophy for contributions to U.S. Hockey in ’92 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in ’96.
He is survived by his wife Claire and children Joann, Jay, Julie and Janice.