We’re coming into the Islanders 50th Anniversary season, which will create an opportunity for the franchise to celebrate its past and for The Post to pick the 50 greatest players in team history.
If we were to do the 50 most important people in the history of the organization, all-time general manager Bill Torey and all-time coach Al Arbor would definitely rank 1-2, respectively, but it’s no fun having a pair of suits at the top of the list.
But the anniversary also creates an opportunity for islanders to celebrate Ed Westfall, now 81, by retiring their first captain number 18 and elevating the jersey to the top of the UBS Arena – where he will rightly join Clark Gillies’ No. 5 Denis Botvin. No. 9, Brian Trotier No. 19, Mike Posey No. 22, Bob Nystrom No. 23, John Tonelli No. 27, Billy Smith No. 31 and Butch Goring No. 91.
Westfall will become the first Honored Player who was not part of the dynasty. That is what it should be, because in the seven seasons leading up to 1979-80, he was integral in laying the foundation for the four consecutive Stanley Cup teams and in nurturing the organization and its impossible-to-mature young stars.
The numbers are unremarkable, although they are a little better than I would have imagined for the audit wing and penalty shooter: 105 goals (tied for 29th place in franchise history), 181 assists (23), 286 points (27) in 493 games (34).
But upon arriving on the island in the 1972 expansion draft for the Bruins after their second cup win in three years, Westfall offered leadership and professionalism to serve as a role model for his young teammates.
It was, in a sense, full circle for Westfall, who was part of every Bruins club that battled the Rangers for fifth over the last seasons of the Original Six. He was in Boston when Bobby Orr arrived. He was on the island when Botvin came… and the Gillies and the Trotier and the Posey and…
One of the great teammates in NHL history, Westfall was one of the most popular and outfitted men to ever wear the Islanders’ uniform. Of those 105 goals, it was the goal at 14:42 of the third period of Game 7 in Pittsburgh in 1975 that gave the Islanders a 1-0 victory and cemented the team’s historic 3-0 career in the series.
Incidentally, it was Westfall in the right corner who raced Brad Park to leave the disc behind for Judd Darwin to feed JP Parise in 0:11 of overtime in the park in the decider match 3 against Rangers in the 1975 preliminary round that symbolized the seismic shift of the Teutonic Plates.
Again, these numbers are not. Westfall, who became a club television analyst for 20 years alongside Jiggs McDonald, set a model for what it means to be an islander. What it means to be a professional. It served as a bridge for the family.
The numbers are not.
It was number 18.
There won’t be quite the pomp and circumstance as the first time around, but Slap Shots has learned that a reunion between the Rangers and Jimmy Vesey is looming.
The 29-year-old famously signed with the Blueshirts as free agent Kevin Hayes in 2016-2017 after turning down offers from both the Predators, who drafted the Harvard 66 product overall in 2012, and from Sabers, who traded for him. rights. After stopping in Buffalo, Toronto and Vancouver after leaving Manhattan, Vesey is coming off a solid season in New Jersey as a deep forward.
Supposed to sign a free agent contract for the $750,000 minimum that wouldn’t count towards the cap if assigned to AHL Hartford, Vesey – who went 50-40-90 in 240 games for the Rangers for the first time – would compete on the genre From the fourth and sixth lower innings Tyler Mott played well last spring, but he disqualified himself.
So the myth that no one wants to play in Calgary took on a hit when superb playmaker Jonathan Huberdeau, a 29-year-old left winger, scored an eight-year subscription for $84 million ($10.5 million).
Then again, legal bribery has its charms.
The usual suspects continue to report that Nazim Qadri is still looking for a long-term commitment with a sticker price starting with the number “9”, and if this is indeed the minimum for a second-line position, which will turn 32 in the week before the season opener, it is no mystery why he remains. without signature.
Julien Gautier asks:
Is there another player you can think of in his late football career on the path to blasting him with Mike Nobley, the powerhouse winger who spent two years with Rangers during the 1997-2004 Dark Ages before being sent to Boston for Rob DiMaio?
In the first six years of his career with the Red Wings, Blueshirts and Bruins, from the age of 24-29, Knuble scored 50 goals and 103 points in 353 games while averaging an icy time of 12:04. He scored 0.14 goals per game.
But in his next eight seasons, aged 30-38 with Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, Knoble scored 218 goals and 419 points in 615 games with an average of 18:31 off the ice. His goals increased each time to 0.52.
We apologize for overlooking Steve Weeks as a goalkeeper who played for both Rangers and Gelanders. Not only that, but as one of seven players in uniform, Weeks is the only one to set a winning record for both teams, going 9-4-2 with the Islanders during 1991-92 after going 42-33-14 for the blue jerseys of 1981 to 1984.
He will be second in our ranking behind Glenn Healey. Steve Valleckett will therefore be propelled to seventh overall, but may be able to cement his position by analyzing the numbers between periods on MSG.
Finally, I try to visualize “Mato! Mato! Mato!” in the rhythm of beloved Finn Scully.
Enjoy the rest of the summer.