New York Islanders Legends Reflect on Lessons Learned from Dynasty Days


Between 1980 and 1984, the New York Islanders achieved 19 consecutive playoff series victories. Imagine the prospect of a franchise achieving that these days in the NHL or NBA. If it sounds unfathomable that’s because this feat is unparalleled, as the Islanders are the last team in any major professional North American sport to win four consecutive championships.

There are numerous club legends established during the dynasty era, and it includes the likes Clark Gillies and Bobby Nystrom. Gillies, a Hockey Hall of Famer and Nystrom, one of the most clutch players of all time, provided a deep dive on details of the dynasty days in an exclusive interview wth Betway Insider.

As BI articulates: “The Islanders had a core of players that had been with the team for years before they finally won their first title in 1980. Nystrom and Gillies had been Islanders for more than five seasons by the time the dynasty began. Other key players like Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, and Billy Smith had been there for at least four seasons. Mike Bossy, the team’s leading goal scorer was there for three seasons.”

The interview, organized by Betway, with these two Long Island hockey icons is extremely wide-ranging, covering numerous topics including the playoff disappointments of the late 1970s that preceded the vault to rarified air, the acquisition of Butch Gohring (now the team’s color analyst, and one of the most renknowned homers in the sports broadcasting game), the Isles’ team chemistry and the importance of organization cohesiveness, from the top on down.

Eight Islanders went on to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, seven of which — Gillies, Al Arbour, Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin, Billy Smith, Bill Torrey, and Bryan Trottier—were members of all four Cup-winning teams.

And that stat reflects one of the main takeaways from this interview, to build and maintain a dynasty, you need to have a great core and you must keep it intact. Yes, changes are made every season, faces come and go, but for the most part, the most notable and succesful dyntasties in the history of sports had a strong nucleus that stayed together.

High turnover, and the inhibiting effects it can have on building/maintaining team cohesiveness, is typically how dynasties end.  Gillies said that Arbour would voice his displeasure if the guys weren’t rooting for each other.

Gillies said that he recalls Arbour saying: “I don’t care if you go to dinner, go to lunch, or if you ever see each other off the ice. You come through that dressing room door, you better be willing to go through a wall for each other.”

The Islanders dynasty was followed up by another team in blue and orange that put together a NHL dynasty, Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers. They won five Stanley Cups in five seasons and five titles in seven.


Of course, the Islanders did it first. We’re never going to see a run like that in the National Hockey League, or in any other sport for that matter. That’s why now, during the current Stanley Cup Playoffs, is the perfect time to reflect on the most recent group to achieve it.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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