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.
The Islanders have had their share of playoff heroes during their storied history. Starting in the pre-dynasty era with J.P. Parise, the dynasty era with winners from Bob Nystrom, Denis Potvin and Mike Bossy to name a few and post dynasty era with heroics from Pat LaFontaine, David Volek and John Tavares. Four years ago today, the unlikeliest of them all made his mark.
Alan Quine was an NHL veteran of all of two regular-season games when the 23-year-old made his NHL postseason debut in Game One of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers. Quine made his NHL debut five days earlier. A rash of injuries, including an Anders Lee broken leg, gave Quine an opportunity. He immediately made his mark. The Belleville, Ontario native scored his first NHL goal, a deflection from a Bracken Kearns shot off his knee. Just how Quine dreamt it so many years ago. Years from now, when Quine tells his grandkids the story of his first NHL goal, it’ll be a one-timer from the circle.
The Isles took home-ice advantage from the Florida Panthers off of a Game one win. Quine, who centered a line between Shane Prince and Ryan Strome, picked up the primary assist on Strome’s game-winning goal.
The team alternated wins the next three games. A pivotal Game five awaited the Islanders, who were winless in their last 11 Game fives. You had to go back to 1987 against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Patrick Division Finals. Quine was born six-years later. Heck, the Panthers weren’t even in the league.
Game five was an absolute classic. The winless streak almost reached 12 as Calvin de Haan covered the puck in the cease in the first overtime, resulting in a Sasha Barkov penalty shot. Thomas Greiss made the save on the Barkov backhand shot and the game continued.
We now move ahead to the second overtime where Derek MacKenzie slashed Tavares’ stick in half, resulting in an Islanders power play. Quine, who drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the third round of the 2011 draft, went back in the draft two years later after the Wings neglected to sign him and the Islanders took him in the sixth round. After playing 195 AHL games, Quine took the ice on the rag-tag second power-play unit, featuring Quine, Nikolai Kulemin, Josh Bailey, Thomas Hickey and Marek Zidlicky. The second-longest game in franchise history ended when Quine one-timed a Zidlicky pass by former Islander Roberto Luongo giving the Islanders the 3-2 win.
Quine became the first rookie since Kenny Morrow in 1980 to score an overtime goal. He also supplanted Morrow with the least regular-season games played (18) to score in overtime.
Quine’s goal began a four-game point streak. His next point? You guessed it, on John Tavares’ series-winning goal in double overtime in Game six, sending the franchise to the second round for the first time in 23 years,
The playoff heroics earned Quine a two-year contract. However, injuries and inconsistencies plagued Quine during that time. His fate was sealed when Lou Lamoriello took over and the forward did not receive a qualifying offer. The Calgary Flames signed Quine to a one-year, two-way contract in the summer of 2018 and has bounced between the AHL and the Flames ever since.
Alan Quine’s time as an Islander was short. He took advantage of an opportunity and made it count. That’s the beauty of sports.