The Islanders celebrated Al Arbour's historic accomplishment in the only way they knew possible – with an unforgettable ceremony.
The script couldn't have been written any better for Arbour, who celebrated his 1500th game as an Islander with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in front of an enthusiastic sellout crowd of 16,234 on Saturday, November 3, 2008.
The Islanders trailed 2-0 in the second period and 2-1 in the third period, but Miroslav Satan scored twice in the final frame, giving Arbour his historic 740th win as an Islander. Following the final buzzer and the congratulatory handshakes, the entire Islanders team stayed on the ice for a special ceremony.
Carpet was laid across the ice as the sellout crowd, the players and coaches watched a tribute video to Arbour. At its conclusion, Arbour's entire family, led by wife Claire, joined Al on the ice. Captain Bill Guerin and alternates Mike Sillinger and Brendan Witt presented Arbour with a commemorative framed "Arbour 1500" jersey.
"I'm very touched with everything," said Arbour after the game. "I was very surprised at the end when they raised the new banner. All of the fans staying until the very, very end, that really touched me quite a bit. I'd like to thank the organization for asking me to do this, and especially the players that worked so hard. Ted Nolan did a great job with the team, as well as general manager Garth Snow and owner Charles Wang. This is really my second home."
Also helping with the festivities were many of Al's former players, who entered the ice surface carrying the new banner. Ed Westfall, Gerry Hart, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies, Jean Potvin, Mike Hordy, Richie Hansen, Pat LaFontaine, Benoit Hogue, Steve Webb and Eric Cairns were each received by roaring applause from the crowd that stood for the entire ceremony.
Before raising the "Arbour 1500" banner, the entire team, Al's family and the Islanders alumni took a group shot with Al and the banner. The final touch to the event came with an explosion of confetti as the "Arbour 1500" banner reached its resting place high atop the ice surface.
"To know where you're going, you have to know where you came from," said head coach Ted Nolan. "I look up at the banners all the time. I look at all the names all the time. And one of the most important guys in this organization, along with Mr. Torrey was Al Arbour. You could tell how much he is loved here by the way the fans reacted when he was introduced. We have to remember where we came from."