By Jason Lockhart
The Islanders organization dubbed it Bob Bourne Night, but in reality it was Bob Bourne Day.
From the crack of dawn, the Nassau Coliseum honored one of the greatest players in Islanders history. In the morning, the NYI 365 Season Subscribers were treated to a very special Saturday Morning Skate.
With the practice just wrapping up, those in attendance were given a sneak peak of the Bourne video tribute, later shown prior to the start of the Islanders game against the Washington Capitals.
Following the video, Bourne, as well as his former linemates, Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier were announced. For the rest of the morning, everyone in the building filed through the seats to meet and receive autographs from the Islanders greats.
"It's great to bring back the tradition," said Islanders Booster Club President, Claire Harding. "We're proud to see Bob Bourne getting the honor he deserves."
"I remember Bourne's goal vividly," added Claire's husband, Gary. "Of course the highlight was when he deked Reijo Ruotsalainen out of his pants. That was probably one of the best end-to-end moves I've ever seen. His speed was so deceptive. One moment he's standing in his own end and two seconds later, he was at the far blueline going past fives guys and then on a breakaway. His speed was his greatest asset."
The day was only beginning for Bourne, who was then honored with a stirring presentation prior to the start of the game. Fox Sports Net New York's color analyst Howie Rose served as the master of ceremonies.
The ceremony began with the video presentation, which featured a number of Bourne goals, including his famous end-to-end rush against the Rangers in the 1983 playoffs.
It was then that Bourne was introduced, as well as a group of Islanders legends including "the architect" Bill Torrey, Clark Gillies, Bobby Nystrom, Bossy and Trottier.
"I played against Bobby in juniors, so to play on the same line with him was great," said Islanders legend Bryan Trottier. "He scored so many big goals for us and had so much determination. He was hungry and competed hard every game. It's a great honor for Bob and it's wonderful to be a part of tonight."
Bossy and Trottier presented Bourne with his Islanders Hall of Fame plaque that will rest in the Hall of Fame Garden, to be constructed this spring. Alexei Yashin, Ted Nolan and the entire Islanders team presented Bourne with the first-ever Islanders Hall of Fame watch before Bourne spoke.
"I am so honored to be here tonight," said Bourne. "I want to thank the New York Islanders management. I'm really excited that everyone could be here and about the hockey team we're going to watch tonight. You fans treated me so well while I was here. I love Long Island and I miss it!"
After his poignant speech, Bourne's Hall of Fame banner was raised to the rafters. It will hang next to the complete Islanders Hall of Fame banner which includes Denis Potvin, Bossy, Billy Smith, Nystrom, Gillies, Trottier, Al Arbour and Torrey, who have been grandfathered into the Hall of Fame. Bourne's banner will remain until next year's honoree is inducted.