JT watches over us from above - Gregory Shamus
We count down to Christmas with Islander memories.
An Advent Calendar is a calendar that counts down the days till Christmas. Originally it overlapped with the season of Advent, but a lot of them now just count down 24 days from December 1st to Christmas. Much like everything else related to Christmas, it's been pretty much commercialized now. You can get everything from Lego to chocolate Advent calendars. Each day you would open the next package and get a little something.
This is imagining if we had an Islanders Advent calendar. Yes, I realize this would have made more sense if we had done it day by day, but the best ideas are last second ideas. Much like an Advent calendar though, not every day is going to be great. Sometimes you pull out that weird piece of chocolate, or the quickie gift that's there to full a day. So without further explanation, let's dive into the calendar.
Day 1: The Dubie Stick Poke. A great way to start off the calendar, a great moment in team history but not a playoff moment.
Day 2: All things Butchie! The trade that brought the last piece to the Island, his loveable helmet and his ability to entertain us today with his butcherisms. We've gotten to enjoy 3 decades of Butchie.
Day 3: Mick Vukota Hat Trick. Who even knew that the Islanders early 90s goon scored a natural hat trick? The Islanders have a history of goons who have found interesting ways to be a part of team history.
Day 4: Mike Mottau Snow Angel. They aren't going to all be winners, as Mottau sprawls on the ice like a lost pee wee player. It's definitely one of those pieces of chocolate that looks bad and tastes even worse when you eat it.
Day 5: Viktor Kozlov's 4 Goal Night against the Rangers. You know something special is going on when the Islanders score 4 goals on 8 shots against the Queen. Even more so when the Islanders end up winning 7-4 thanks to Kozlov's 4 goals.
Day 6: Battlin' Billy Smith Stick to the Shin. There are so many ways that Billy Smith was the man. But one of the most fun things about him was that he didn't take anything. He gave it as well as he took it, and there's a reason he gained the moniker battlin'.
Day 7: Islanders on Sportschannel. Those were the days, when the Islanders weren't hidden on a channel number that TVs couldn't even go up to in the '80s. When a channel was proud to have Isles broadcasts and would actually advertise them.
Day 8: Ken Morrow 84 Series Winning OT Goal Vs Rangers. We hate the Flyers and Penguins, but it doesn't reach the level of hate that it does for the Rangers. When the Islanders would get on local sports broadcasts during the dynasty years, the questions would always be about the Rangers. But on the ice, moments like these were gold.
Day 9: The Danish Backhand of Judgement. If Bill Torrey is the father and Al Arbour is the son, the holy ghost of the LHH trinity is Frans Nielsen. The backhand is one of the most beautiful and automatic things that Frans does, while still being one of the most complete players on the ice.
Day 10: Travis and Ziggy Liplock. Most of us who grew up with Ranger fans near us probably never heard the end of it after this one. I've never seen the problem, here at LHH Dom gives us kisses after we write good stories all the time. It must be something with those Czechs and Slovaks.
Day 11: Scott LaChance at the All Star Game. Even I'm not sure how this got here. Back to back duds? The next one better be good.
Day 12: Shawn Bates Penalty Shot. This makes up for it. Looking back at the highlights, it's surprising that the roof didn't blow off the building following the goal. It's going to be sad if there's never another playoff series at the Coliseum, it deserves one last going away party.
Day 13: Mike Bossy 50 in 50. 35 years, for 35 years Maurice Richard's 50 in 50 record stood. It was thought to be unbreakable. The icing on the cake though was Bossy's on ice celebration, a moment of pure joy for someone that worked so hard.
Day 14: John Tavares' First NHL Goal: After a season of hell, the Islanders first overall selection since DP scored in his first NHL game with the assist coming from Matt Moulson. A sign of things to come.
Day 15: Eric Cairns pummeling Shayne Corson: The Leafs were taking liberties with the Islanders through the whole series, taking out Micheal Peca and Kenny Jonsson. Some people claim they've never heard the Coliseum as loud as it was during this fight.
Day 16: 1975 Series Comeback vs. Penguins. The Penguins have never beaten the Islanders in the playoffs, and the run started early. The Pens were up 3-0, a mark that only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs had ever come back from. Not only did the Islanders win 4 straight and knock off the Pens, but they nearly duplicated it in the following conference finals against the Flyers.
Day 17: Penguins Fight Night. With guys like Max Talbot, Matt Cooke, Brooks Orpik among others, the Penguins had a culture of cheap shots. Being one of the "blessed" teams by the league meant that they rarely had to answer for those cheap shots. The Islanders completely dominated for the first half of the game, and then the fights broke out and the Isles dominated some more.
Day 18: Al Arbour. Al Arbour was the 3rd coach of the Islanders, after two different coaches in their inaugural season managed to combine for 12 wins. Every season that passes without a great coach behind the bench, the legend of Arbour just becomes bigger. Almost 20 years since his last game, no head coach of the Isles has gotten to 100 wins or 200 games coached (1/7th of his career total).
Day 19: Mike Milbury's Promotion. After a decade of ruining the team, Milbury accepts a "promotion" and is no longer the GM of the Isles. Milbury apparently didn't realize his thinly veiled promotion was his firing, as he stepped down not long after complaining he didn't have enough input.
Day 20: The Easter Epic. Although the winning goal was scored by a mystery figure, the game ranks as one of the all time classics. The Capitals and Islanders had their fair share of back and forths in the early 90s, and this was definitely the centerpiece of that short term rivalry.
Day 21: Dennis Potvin. 12 wins in their first season allowed the Islanders the first overall pick in the following draft, in which they took Potvin. Potvin went on to be not just everything the Islanders could have wanted as a defenseman, but he became the on ice leader of the team and one of the pillars of the team.
Day 22: Ferraro To Volek. The Islanders weren't supposed to be in the same league as the two time defending cup champ Penguins with all star center Pierre Turregon in the lineup. Without him, the Pens were expected to steamroll the Islanders. That Ray Ferraro, who had a horrible regular season but came alive in the playoffs (20 points in 18 games) was a part of the series winning goal is definitely karmic justice.
Day 23: Islanders Sweep The Oilers. It seems like the Islanders are somehow missing from NHL history, the league somehow jumps from the Canadians Dynasty to the Oilers wannabe dynasty. Despite the naysayers at the time, the Islanders went on to win 4 straight cups. But none were probably as big as defeating the upstart Oilers in 4 games. The talking heads all expected an Oilers sweep of the Islanders to reign in the changing of the guard in the NHL. Not quite yet though, not quite yet.
Day 24: Tonelli to Nystrom. The Islanders had gotten labels as chokers in the season leading up to 79-80. Up 3-2 at the Coliseum going into the 3rd period it looked like the Islanders had it. But they let the Flyers back into the game to force OT. Lorne Henning is the forgotten guy in the play, as he grabbed the bad clearing attempt by the Flyers and passed it up to Tonelli. Later Nystrom would say in interviews that he and Tonelli had been practicing that same move all season long, and this game it paid off. For those Islander fans who started with the team in 72, there could be no more glorious reward for following the team for 8 years.
Thanks for joining us for the inaugural LHH Advent Calendar. If you guys liked this one, maybe next season I'll put one together for each day. Also thanks to the other guys at LHH for their input, which definitely was needed to fill this up. Finally the advent calendar idea is slightly stolen from the 80s/90s nostalgia site Dinosaur Dracula.