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.
Most people know Terry Crisp as one of the original members of the Predators broadcast crew, working with the legendary Pete Weber on selling the good people of Nashville on the sport of hockey.
Older fans might recall him from his playing days in the 70’s, particularly as one of the few Broad Street Bullies (Rick MacLeish and Bill Clement being the others), who wasn’t much of a bully, but a two-time Cup champion nonetheless.
Others may know him as a general hockey raconteur with that goofy smile and super curly hair.
But very few remember Terry Crisp as an inaugural Islander. He was snapped up in the 1972 expansion draft from St. Louis in what must have felt like a disappointing case of deja vu. The Blues had claimed him in the 1967 expansion draft from the Boston Bruins (who might have noticed him because he hailed from Parry Sound, Ontario, the same hometown as one Robert Gordon Orr). A light-scoring center, Crisp spent the better part of five seasons with the Blues and played on each of the teams that lost in the Stanley Cup finals three years in a row.
It takes a strong man to play for two NHL expansion teams, especially back in the 60’s and 70’s when the league and its established general managers could care less about the new kids on the block. And in October of 1972 at the age of 29, Crisp found himself part of a motley crew on Long Island that was destined to win a measly 12 games in their first season.
There doesn’t seem to be any video evidence of Crisp specifically playing for the Islanders that season. Instead, let’s watch this video of that season’s lone highlight, an unexpected win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins. Crisp is in there somewhere. I think.
With just four goals and 16 assists in 54 games, Crisp didn’t make much of a lasting impression on the Islanders’ record book. But he did help them in one major way, and ended up getting two Stanley Cups out of the deal, too.
On March 5, 1973, GM Bill Torrey sent Crisp to the Flyers for defenseman Jean Potvin. Potvin was a pretty good player in his own right, but his brother, who was about to be available in the upcoming NHL amateur draft, was something entirely different. And Torrey knew that having the elder Potvin on the roster would make the Islanders pretty enticing to the younger model.
And so Terry Crisp played on two Cup winners before retiring in 1976 to become coach of the AHL’s Springfield Indians, and begin his second career. And the Islanders got Denis Potvin. Not a bad deal at all, Bowtie Bill.