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Islanders Gameday News: Captain & Tonelli, 27 will keep us together

The Islanders prepare to retire Tonelli’s number, while keeping it alive for a guy who may eclipse his totals

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1980 Quarter Finals: Boston Bruins v New York Islanders
Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images

John Tonelli will gratefully and graciously receive a cherished honor tonight that pays tribute to just how important he was to the NHL’s last ture dynasty and the only team to ever win 19 playoff series in a row.

However you feel* about this in terms of perhaps retiring too many numbers — and I’m here for that discussion**, just probably not today — he was an absolute beast and key cog for a team of legends.

*Although the other night I saw six — SIX! — retired number banners in Colorado, reflecting about 20 years of history and a Bruins legend who spent a little over a season with the team. So.

**Speaking of which, retiring numbers in a league that only allows 1-99 on jerseys has always been a proposition that, like fossil fuels, exurban sprawl and space junk, was a inevitable problem we inherently punt to future generations who have to deal with it after we’re dead. Eventually, assuming the league survives and apocalypse and asteroids are averted, teams will have to figure out how to recycle or reinstate numbers. Or expand to three* digits.

***In which Josh Ho-Sang’s grandson dons the number 666.

Honestly, though Tonelli’s team helped make him #legend, he’s right to note that Anders Lee deserves to keep their “shared” number for many reasons, including the fact Lee shares many traits with Tonelli. And considering Lee, with 484 regular season games and 169 goals in an Islanders uniform, is likely to one day eclipse Tonelli’s totals (594 and 206, respectively), I could see a day well in the future where they raise a 27 banner for Lee, too.

Anyway, the celebration is tonight. Hopefully the Red Wings are weak enough to make it a proper party. Ceremony begins at 6:30, game begins at 8:00.

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here.

Islanders News

  • Previewing tonight’s game. [Isles]
  • The Islanders wake up this morning outside of playoff position, albeit with games in hand. With some core players on long-term contracts but few assets to trade, where do they go from here? [Athletic]
  • Stan Fischler recalls Tonelli the way only the Maven can. [Isles] (I am not exaggerating when I say Tonelli was my ideal model of a hockey player. The cherry on top of his skill, grit and energy were his epic goal celebrations.)
  • Tonelli scored some huge goals in Islanders history, including both key goals in the Dynasty-saving 1982 first-round series against the Penguins. His exhale at this point in his post-game interview says it all. Dan will have something later this morning on how Tonelli’s shadow was long, even for those who never watched him play live.
  • Tonight’s honor consummates the thawing of some distance between him and the team that goes back 30 years. [Times]
  • Thanks again for everyone who has called in with stories of their favorite Islanders games. [LHH Podcast]
  • The Sound Tigers had an up-and-down week. [Bridgeport Report] They have a big week ahead. [CT Insider] Among the highlights is an AHL/NWHL men/women doubleheader. [CT Insider]
  • The Miracle on Ice is in the news for its 40th anniversary this month, and you may know it’s a family affair for Brock Nelson and his uncle, gold medalist and former NHLer Dave Christian. [NHL]


What a sequence:

Last night’s NHL scores include the Flyers and Blue Jackets annoyingly going to extra time, where the Flyers won. The Leafs also shut out the Penguins, which made this idiot hot take #TypicalBerger.

  • All three California teams are heading toward playoff misses, representing an end of a Golden run. [ESPN] In the future: Canada-esque headlines about which team has the best chance to end California’s Cup drought.
  • Players describe what it’s like to be traded, how they find out, and whether they monitor the players they were traded for. [Sportsnet]
  • Recalling the first man to score a Stanley Cup Game 7 OT winner. [THN]
  • Possible trade target Jean-Gabriel Pageau is in contract talks to stay with the Senators. [TSN]
  • Meanwhile, the Canadiens acquired a couple of pasta dishes from the Penguins. [TSN]