Many memories were made during the Islanders unforgettable 1992-93 season, but as the fans and players returned to Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night for a pregame ceremony honoring the Patrick Division Champions, it was clear fans and members of the team were excited to share their memories.
“They played so well that year,” said Bryan Flynn of Queens, now 35. “(Pierre) Turgeon had 58 goals. They went so far in the playoffs and made sure the Penguins didn’t become a dynasty. It was very important for all of us because we were underdogs. They just played with so much heart and fury that we thought they were going to go all the way. Hooked ever since then, it was easy.”
That year, the Islanders were never expected to make the playoffs, nevermind come out of the first round against the Washington Capitals victorious. Then the Islanders really flipped the world on it's head when they defeated the reigning two-time Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Patrick Division Finals with an overtime goal from David Volek.
“When you leave the game you don’t really run into the fans anymore,” said the Captain of the Islanders 1992-93 team, Patrick Flatley. “It’s really flattering to be back and to have this many people come out and give their best wishes to us and let us know that we had an impact on their lives 18 years ago.”
|Pierre Turgeon returns to the ice as the New York Islanders celebrate their 1992-1993 team prior to the game against the San Jose Sharks at Nassau Coliseum on October 29, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) |
For some fans, that series is still their favorite memory of the Islanders. For others, it was the first time they saw Darius Kasparaitis check a player into the boards, were mesmerized by the play of Pierre Turgeon, met the players out in the community and shook their hand, or were given a stick over the glass.
Kasparaitis was surprised he made such an impact on so many Islanders fans.
“Some guys told me the reason they became Islander fans was because of me and the way I play,” Kasparaitis said. “You don’t realize when you retire how much of a difference you made in some peoples’ lives. We take it for granted as players when we play, but sometimes when you don’t have this anymore and you see people appreciate the things you’ve done, playing for the Islanders, it makes me feel very grateful.”
Michael Mazzocco of Rockville Center, now 37, was inspired by Turgeon and tried to style his play after his hockey hero. He even wore a Turgeon jersey during all his street and deck hockey games, retiring that jersey about the same time the Islanders won the Patrick Division title in 1993.
Saturday, Mazzocco pulled the jersey out of the closet for the first time in nearly 20 years and got his hockey heroes autograph.
“I’ve had this jersey for a while,” Mazzocco said. “You can see it has the wear on it and everything. When I heard that they were going to be here. I had to come and see if I could get them to sign it for me. Turgeon was the player I always tried to emulate and copy. That’s why I had his name and number on the back.”
Brian Burton of East Hills, now 31, was just 13-years-old when he watched Volek score that OT goal in Pittsburgh. A few games before, he was lucky enough to receive Turgeon’s stick and the entire team signed it, with the exception of No. 77. Saturday night, Burton met his childhood idol and got that autograph to bring the memory back to life nearly 18 years later.
“Meeting Turgeon was amazing,” Burton said. “We took an amazing photo which I will cherish. It’s just so great that they brought all these guys back because it really still is the one of the biggest things this team has done, even though it was 18-years-ago.”
Hopefully having this team back will rub off on the kids in the locker room. Hopefully it’ll get the fans excited again. Certainly, selfishly for me, I get to meet my hero and have him add his signature to the stick everyone else had signed. It’s absolutely incredible experience, so thank you, thank you Islanders. - Brian Burton
He continued, “Hopefully having this team back will rub off on the kids in the locker room. Hopefully it’ll get the fans excited again. Certainly, selfishly for me, I get to meet my hero and have him add his signature to the stick everyone else had signed. It’s absolutely incredible experience, so thank you, thank you Islanders.”
Robin Marx of Williston Park wore a jersey that she embroidered. Over a period of two-to-three years in the early ‘90s, Marx got the entire team’s autographs, and in an effort to keep that memory alive, she hand-stitched over each players autograph in orange and blue thread, a process which took about 45 minutes per player signature.
Turgeon and Flatley were both really impressed with Marx’s work.
Flatley said, “There was all kind of cool stuff that people brought to show us and have us sign, but one woman had embroidered autographs on her jersey. It took 45 minutes per autograph to do that on her own, so that’s a pretty loyal fan.”