|Al Arbour |
Tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders will turn back the clock. In one of the more unique stories this NHL season, former Islanders head coach Al Arbour will return to coach the Islanders one last time, in order to reach Game #1500.
On Friday afternoon, Arbour signed his historic one-day contract in front of media members, who both covered the Islanders during Arbour's time behind the bench and were too young to see him coach during the Dynastic Era. Longtime New York Times sports writer George Vecsey was on hand to cover the coach he watched for so many years.
But the focus of the press conference was on the man, who, after 13 years, will finally reach a round 1500 games played for the Islanders when he shares the coaching duties with Nolan.
"I never kept track of the number of games I've coached," said Arbour. "I didn't have any idea until they had told me about it. It will be a special night for the alumni, the organization and everyone involved. I'd like to thank Ted, Garth and the owner for making this possible for me. It's a great thrill for my family and me to be back in our hometown of Long Island."
Coach Arbour recounted many stories during his 19 years as Islanders coach, including skating a young Denis Potvin to the ground after he missed the bus to Philadelphia and his post-game celebration with the owners following the Islanders' Game 7 upset against the 1993 Pittsburgh Penguins.
"The former ownership of the team wanted to get rid of David Volek on waivers," recalled Arbour. "He scored the winning goal that night and I remember going into the dressing room. The owners were all around me jumping up and down, celebrating. I said to them 'how do you like David Volek now?' That was the end of me."
There were certainly a number of laughs and some heartfelt moments as Arbour expressed his nostalgic side upon his return to the Coliseum.
"It brings back a lot of good memories," said Arbour. "Once in a while you really think about it, and I've really thought about it a lot since I've been here. I think tomorrow is going to be a big night. All those things are going to come back, especially with me being behind the bench like that. I haven't been behind the bench in something like 14 years."
Arbour has been keeping tabs on the Islanders this season and approves of what he sees.
Said Arbour about the 2007-08 Islanders: "I like Ted's team very much. They've been working hard. They have a lot of character and they come to play the game. That's the big thing. They play hard every night and every shift they play very hard. Anything could happen in those games. Teddy and Garth have done a wonderful job with them."
Al also commented on the way how the style of the game has played since he was the bench boss and player.
"The game has changed an awful lot, especially since I was a player," said Arbour. "The game has been revolutionized a lot since the strike when they were out for a year. Now it's wide open and with a lot of skating. I couldn't get over the size of the players. If you get hit today, you're in bad shape. I wouldn't want to get involved with some of these guys."
Even after 1500 games, coaches can still get the jitters. Coach Arbour admitted this will be a little bit different that usual.
"I used to take pride in going behind the bench," said Arbour. "That was time I used to have to myself. And I was very calm and collected in those games. I'm sure tomorrow I'll be a nervous wreck."
For more information about Al Arbour Night, #1500, click here. And to find out more about the extended coverage, check out this article.Check out the Al Arbour press conference from Friday on Islanders TV by clicking here.LIMITED EDITION ARBOUR #1,500 JERSEYS ON SALE
Only 100 Islanders sweaters signed by Al, available now!
Be a part of history when legendary head coach Al Arbour returns to coach his 1500th NHL tonight, when the Islanders battle Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Whether you attend the game or not, you can keep a piece of the game with you forever with an exclusive Al Arbour limited edition signed replica jersey.
The jersey contains an Al Arbour #1500 commemorative patch on the shoulder that each player will wear during the game. In addition, another limited edition numbered patch at the base of the jersey includes Mr. Arbour's signature.
Only 100 of these jerseys will be sold, so act now before it's too late.To pre-order the limited edition Al Arbour jersey, please visit the Islanders Team Store at the Broadway Mall or e-mail the Merchandise Department at email@example.com. If jerseys still remain, fans cans purchase them directly at one of the merchandise stands during the Al Arbour #1500 contest on November 3.