The New York Islanders - along with every other NHL team and many other businesses - have temporarily suspended operations due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. The Center for Disease Control and World Health Organizations have strongly advised the public to practice self-quarantining and avoid close contact and crowds to limit the spread of the virus. But that doesn’t mean we can’t gather in a virtual space and talk about old hockey players.
As long as the Islanders are on pause, we’ll run this series to give folks a place to chat, reminisce, and generally relieve the stress of the times.
When I think of Marty McInnis, I think of Robert Reichel.
The two were traded for each other in 1997, and while McInnis had been a likeable longtime Islander, Reichel was a two-time 40 goal scorer and was expected to meld with fellow Euro Zigmund Palffy to form the kind of lights-out top scoring duo the team hadn’t had in forever. That did happen (at least for a couple of seasons until Reichel was traded which preceded Palffy’s traumatic trade later that offseason), but as usual, the Islanders were awash in turmoil the entire time. Meanwhile out west, McInnis continued to be a productive if unspectacular NHL regular.
The winger really burst onto the scene in his second season, when the 22-year-old formed “The Kid Line” with the similarly-aged center Travis Green and 25-year-old Brad Dalgarno. They were a consistent scoring unit throughout the regular season, each contributing between 25 and 30 points and allowing Al Arbour to roll steady lines. They lost their mojo in the playoffs (in which McInnis only played three games), but the line was a major, memorable part of the best run the team had seen (or will see) in years.
It’s funny to look back and realize just how productive McInnis was during his career. He scored double digit goals in every season that didn’t include an injury or a lockout. He had a career-high 25 goals in 1993-94, including these two here (apologies for the Rangers broadcast crew in the first one).
He even had 20 goals at the time of his trade to the Flames for Reichel, and would have between 18 and 20 goals four more times in his career.
Calgary traded him to Chicago early in 1998 in a five-player deal, but the Blackhawks flipped him immediately to Anaheim for a fourth round pick. He spent four years with the Mighty Ducks before they traded him to Boston for a third round pick (which was traded again and eventually became Valtteri Filppula. Small world). I remembered McInnis as a Flame, vaguely remembered him as a Mighty Duck and did not remember him at all as a Bruin. He had three hat tricks in his career, one for each of those teams and none for the Islanders.
For a kid from Massachusetts who spent four years at Boston College, playing for the Bruins must have felt like a full circle moment for him. Circles, though, have a tendency to continue, which is what his son Luke is doing right now, also at his dad’s old school, where Marty is an assistant coach. The senior defenseman is undrafted and currently unsigned, by the way... (Shame about this year’s Beanpot tournament).
Although I watched him play, it feels like McInnis was a little bit like Josh Bailey. Both are guys who might not dazzle you with flashy skill and can sometimes seem to disappear for games on end, but who, when you look back on their careers, turned out to be pretty effective.
I hate that my most lasting memory of him is sitting in my car on my way to work my shift at Barnes & Noble in Massapequa and being hugely excited that he had been traded 2,500 miles away for a guy known for scoring a shitload of goals. Sorry, Marty. It wasn’t personal. Just business.
Thanks to Cheepnis for the suggestion.