As the New York Islanders try to make a playoff push over the next month and a half, hockey legends and four-time winners of the Stanley Cup, Mike Bossy, Bob Nystrom, Clark Gillies and Butch Goring, will be playing a game on the same ice where they won three of their four Cups – at the historic Nassau Coliseum.
That’s right, the MET-Rx Skate with the Greats sweepstakes is back and eight lucky winners are going to have the opportunity of a lifetime – to skate with the Islanders legends – following the Islanders vs. New Jersey Devils game on Sunday, March 6.
“Our sponsor (MET-Rx), has run a contest through his company to get winners to participate,” Bossy said. “It’s always nice to see that there are always people that still want to play hockey with us and it’s always nice to see the enthusiasm that they bring, the nervousness and how excited they are.”
Bossy continued, “The best part is meeting the people that won and sharing memories that they have, why they entered the contest and how happy they are to be participating. To be on the ice with them and to see how excited they are and how they want to show off their talents in front of guys like Butchie (Goring), Clarky (Gillies), Bobby Ny (Nystrom) and myself.”
This year, the Skate with the Greats has gone generational and alongside Bossy, Nystrom, Gillies and Goring – of the early eighties – will be Islanders fan favorite Benoit Hogue as well as enforcers Steve Webb and Eric Cairns – of the nineties Islanders.
But last year, Gillies didn’t lace up. Instead, he was coach of one of the teams. And this year he’ll be strapping on the skates to play in what will surely be another exciting game.
“I don’t know how well I’m going to skate, but I’m going to skate,” Gillies said. “I’m certainly not as quick as I used to be. But it will be fun. It’s great to get out there. We’re not really skating very hard or very long, but it’s nice to get out there and skate with the people who’ve won. I also get the chance to hook up with some of the old boys, Bossy, Nystrom, Goring and Benoit Hogue.”
Since he’s experienced Islanders fandom for generations, Gillies knows just how special this type of event is for the fans.
“I’ve never been on the fan side of the whole thing, but certainly, these people get a real kick out of being out there with the guys from our era,” Gillies said. “Nothing against the guys on the team now, but it’s our era that everyone seems to remember so vividly, what went on when we were playing, the four Stanley Cups and everything, so I just think everyone is just excited to get up close and personal with the guys that were on that team. It’s very special to them.”About the Greats
Hockey Hall of Famer, Mike Bossy, played his entire 10-year professional career with the Islanders, starting when he was selected 15th overall in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft. Over his career, he played in 752 regular season games and tallied 1126 points (573 goals, 553 assists) and 210 penalty minutes. In 129 playoff games, the Islanders great scored 85 goals and 75 assists for 160 points and 38 penalty minutes.
|Canadian ice hockey player Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders on the ice during a game, late 1970s through late 1980s. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images) |
The Montreal, Quebec native also won the Calder Memorial Trophy for rookie of the year in 1977-78, the Conn Smythe Trophy for most valuable player in 1981-82, and the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct three separate years (1982-83, 1983-84 and 1985-86).
Bob Nystrom, Islanders Hall of Famer, played his entire 14-year professional career with the Islanders franchise. Selected 33rd overall in the 1972 Amateur Draft, the winger went on to play 900 regular season games and tallied 513 points (235 goals, 278 assists) as well as 1248 penalty minutes. In 157 playoff games, Nystrom earned 83 points (39 goals, 44 assists) and 236 penalty minutes. The Stockholm, Sweden native has since made a home on Long Island and coaches local youth hockey.
Hockey Hall of Famer Clark Gillies was selected fourth overall by the Islanders in the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft. He went on to play 12 seasons (and win four Cups) with the Islanders before playing his final two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. While wearing an Islanders sweater, the legend played in 872 games, earning 663 points (304 goals, 359 assists) and 891 penalty minutes. In 159 playoff games, Gillies scored 47 goals and 46 assists for 93 points and 262 penalty minutes.
Islanders legend Butch Goring began the 2010-11 season as the MSG color commentator, but once he wraps up MSG’s postgame with Howie Rose, he’ll be strapping on his skates to participate in the Skate with the Greats. The former Islander began his career with the Los Angeles Kings and was a seasoned 9-year veteran before he laced up for his first Islanders game in 1980. Five full seasons with the Islanders and five playoff series later, Goring won for Stanley Cups, playing in 332 regular season games for the Isles, recording 195 points (87 goals, 108 assists) and 30 penalty minutes. The St. Boniface, Manitoba native also played in 99 playoff games, recording 28 goals, 40 assists for 68 points and 26 penalty minutes.
Goring won the Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player during the 1980-81 Stanley Cup Playoff run. He was head coach of the Islanders from 1999 through 2001.
Benoit Hogue was only in an Islanders jersey for three-and-a-half years, playing in 258 regular season games. In his short time with the franchise, he quickly became a fan favorite. He posted 229 points (105 goals, 124 assists) and 282 penalty minutes. Hogue also played in 22 playoff games and earned six goals, seven assists for 13 points and 35 penalty minutes. In his 15 years in the NHL, Hogue also played for the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Phoenix Coyotes, Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.
Steve Webb played the majority of his NHL career with the Islanders, seeing time in 316 games, (posting an additional five games for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2003-04 season). In eight professional seasons, he posted five goals and 13 assists for 18 points, but in every sense of the word, he was an enforcer as he posted 532 penalty minutes. Webb still resides locally, working with Long Island youth hockey players, but he spends his summers at home in Peterborough, Ontario.
A true enforcer, Eric Cairns posted 814 penalty minutes in 327 games, almost 2.5 times the amount of games he played in an Islanders jersey. In that time, he posted nine goals, 27 assists for 36 points. He also played games for the New York Rangers, Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins, but to this day, the Oakville, Ontario native resides on Long Island working in player development for the Islanders franchise.