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'He's Going To Be Worth It': The Islanders Butch Goring trade on its 36th anniversary

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The Islanders dynasty really started on March 10, 1980, the day the team acquired a versatile center from Los Angeles (by way of Manitoba) and his crazy helmet.

He had a good chance on that one, Howie.
He had a good chance on that one, Howie.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

On March 9, 1980, after a loss to the Washington Capitals, the Islanders were 31-28-9. They didn't look anything like the Stanley Cup contender that had finished the previous season 51-15-14. That season ended with being upset by the Rangers in the semifinals, the latest in a four-year long line of playoff choke jobs. Off the ice, the team was also staving off bankruptcy, ownership strife and possible relocation or dissolution. General manager Bill Torrey knew his team needed something.

On March 10, 1980, Torrey made a deal with Los Angeles, trading longtime Islanders Billy Harris (the team's first ever draft pick) and defenseman Dave Lewis to the Kings for center Butch Goring.

The immediate result: the Islanders went undefeated in 12 games down the stretch en route to the franchise's first Stanley Cup. They would go on to win the next three Cups and amass an astonishing 19 straight playoff series victories before losing to the Edmonton Oilers in the 1984 final.

But it started with Butch.

From the AP, March 11, 1980:

"When things aren't going right and you know what the problems are, you've got to correct them," said Torrey. "I did what we need to get over the top. There are people who think this season is a dead end. I don't think so. I still think the best part of the season is ahead of us.

"Butch had never been on a winning team. I knew how badly he wanted that. He'll work hard and contribute. He can do anything."

The idea behind the Goring trade was to alleviate the workload of No. 1 center Bryan Trottier. Goring's first game with the Islanders seemed to be an indication of things to come, with Trottier scoring four goals against the hapless Colorado Rockies.

Goring, who found out about the trade after the Kings were beaten 6-3 in Montreal Monday night said he was surprised. "There'd been trade talk for a good part of the year and when there was nothing one day before the trading deadline I figured I was home safe."

Goring was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP in the Islanders' five-game victory over the Minnesota North Stars in the 1981 Stanley Cup final. He remained an Islander until 1985, when he was placed on waivers and picked up by the Boston Bruins. Five months later, he was named Boston's head coach in a really bizarre episode that was sorta typical of the Bruins at the time.

Goring coached the Islanders - mostly unsuccessfully - for two seasons in the late 1990's and early 2000's and currently serves as the team's color commentator for MSG Network. To those of us that spend 80-plus games a year with him, that post-trade quote is classic Butch.

The St. Bonafice, Manitoba native is also a member of the province's Sports Hall of Fame, which captured his life and career in this video.

Wherever he is, Butch Goring brings with him that amazing trade, those four Stanley Cups, that insane helmet and a million great stories. And all of them (except the helmet) started on March 10, 1980.