Arbour's success with 1 team - Isles - stands out to Bowman
Of Al Arbour's numerous NHL achievements, one stands out to his former coaching colleague and mentor, Scotty Bowman.
Upon learning of Arbour's death on Friday, Bowman marveled at how the former New York Islanders coach was capable of winning 740 games and four Stanley Cup championships with just one team.
''Nobody can do that,'' Bowman told The Associated Press by phone. ''Most of the other coaches, we have to move around to get our message across. But he was able to do it over a 20-year span, which is an awesome feat.''
It's something Bowman was unable to do, as his NHL-record 1,244 career coaching wins, and nine championships spanned five teams and 30 seasons.
''You're dealing with completely new players but with the same team,'' Bowman added. ''I think, that tells you a lot about him that's for sure.''
Arbour, the bespectacled gentleman of a coach, who molded a young and talented team into an NHL dynasty, died at the age of 82, the Islanders announced. Arbour had been in declining health, battling Parkinson's disease and dementia, and living in a long-term care facility in Florida.
Though Bowman has the edge on Arbour in numerous coaching categories, Arbour made his mark mostly on Long Island. And it coincidently followed a three-year stint coaching the St. Louis Blues, where Arbour succeeded Bowman.
Beginning in 1973-74, Arbour led the Isles to 15 playoff appearances and won 119 playoff games - an NHL record with one team - over 19 seasons. His 782 career wins are second only to Bowman.
''Al will always be remembered as one of, if not the greatest coaches ever to stand behind a bench in the history of the National Hockey League,'' Islanders President and general manager Garth Snow said. ''From his innovative coaching methods, to his humble way of life away from the game, Al is one of the reasons the New York Islanders are a historic franchise.''
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996 in the builder category, Arbour also enjoyed a 14-season NHL career playing defense.
He won titles with the Detroit Red Wings in 1954, the Chicago Blackhawks ('61) and the Toronto Maple Leafs in `62 and `64 during a 14-eyar career. His last four seasons were with the Blues, who took him to three more Cup finals.
No team in any major sport has won four straight titles since the Islanders did from 1980-83. The Canadiens hold the NHL record with five straight titles (1956-60).
And the Isles set a league record by winning 19 consecutive playoff series, something Bowman believes will be difficult to match because it would require a team to win five consecutive championships.
Arbour's success was a result of a lengthy period of stability on Long Island, where he was the coach of a team that was built by general manager Bill Torrey. In their heyday, the Islanders core players included forwards Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies, defenseman Denis Potvin and goalie Billy Smith.
Former Islanders player Ray Ferraro paid tribute to Arbour on Twitter, saying: ''Have so many thoughts on passing of Al Arbour. So sad, he impacted my career, life deeply. Rest peacefully Al.''
Arbour's last win came in 2007, when the Islanders brought the then-75-year-old out of retirement to coach his 1,500th game with the franchise, a 3-2 win over the Penguins.
Arbour's death comes at a time when the Islanders are in transition. The franchise is moving from its longtime and outdated home - Nassau Coliseum - in Uniondale, New York, to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn this season.
From Sudbury, Ontario, Arbour was the NHL's coach of the year in 1979. In 1992, he was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1992 for contributions to ice hockey in the United States.
''He had that special touch that only a few people are gifted to have naturally,'' said former Islanders goaltender Glen `Chico' Resch, who played on the Islanders' first title team. ''It's sort of like the superstar hockey player who has that special talent to score goals but continues to be humble and accommodating and everyone loves the guy.''
One of the last NHL players to play wearing glasses, he never hesitated to go down and block shots and he had a couple of hundred stitches to prove it. Arbour finished with 12 goals and 58 assists in 626 career games.
Arbour voiced complaints about how quickly teams lose patience with coaches and general managers, wondering if he would have coached the Islanders for as long as he did in today's game.
''The minute you lose a few games, you get the hammer, you get canned,'' Arbour told The AP in 2010. ''It's craziness. The guy they get is not any better.''
He is survived by his wife Claire, and children Joann, Jay, Julie and Janice.