Getting drafted into the NHL is no small feat. It confirms the fact that you're one of the best ice hockey players on the planet. Draft days are packed with excitement, nerves, and anticipation. Players are often dressed in their sharpest suits surrounded by loved ones when they receive the big news. It wasn't always like this though. Mr. Islander himself, Bob Nystrom, recalled his draft day story, and it's quite the opposite of what we see today.
Nystrom was a working man, framing houses when he decided to grab a beer with some co-workers after his shift. He was at a bar when he got an unexpected call from his father.
"I'm sitting in the bar having a beer, and all of a sudden I hear this voice on the intercom. 'Paging Bob Nystrom, paging Bob Nystrom.' I wonder what the heck is going on? So I went and picked up the phone and my father was on the phone. He says 'you were drafted by the New York Islanders.' I said to him, 'Who?' I didn't even know about the new team," Nystrom recalled.
Nystrom was born in Sweden, but grew up in Alberta, Canada and had little to no knowledge of Long Island. Considering the Islanders were one of two new expansion teams joining the league - along with the Atlanta Flames - that was to be expected.
Video: 1980: Bob Nystrom's OT goal wins Islanders first Cup
"It was a rude awakening when I came down to sign my contract because I just couldn't believe the beauty of Long Island, the beaches. I expected it to be just like Manhattan, and it certainly wasn't that's for sure," Nystrom said.
Nystrom was claimed 33rd overall by the Islanders in 1972, making him part of the team's original draft class. His first full season with the team was in 1973-74 where he tallied up 41 points and soon became known as one of the Islander's best players and a fan favorite for his toughness.
Nystrom led an extremely successful career, playing 900 games with the franchise. His signature moment was scoring the Stanley Cup clinching goal in game six of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final against the Philadelphia Flyers, securing the Islander's first ever Stanley Cup.
He was coined 'Mr. Islander' not only for his contributions to the team, but also because of his willingness to give back to the community. He often donated to various charities on Long Island and promoted local businesses. That legacy lives on in the Bob Nystrom Award was created in his honor to recognize an Islanders player that exemplifies leadership, hustle and dedication. Turns out after Nystrom got off his shift framing houses, he had a big role in framing the Islanders.