Everyone knows where Lorne Henning, John Tonelli, Bobby Nystrom and the rest of the 1979-80 Stanley Cup champions were thirty years ago today Monday.
Where were you?
In a conversation with Point Blank on Monday, Henning wanted Islanders Country to be reassured that after he passed the puck to John Tonelli, he was trailing the play if Nystrom happened to miss his Cup-winning shot.
“Of course, I probably would have shot the puck into the Coliseum rafters,” Henning said with a laugh.
Thirty years later, he still can’t believe he passed the puck back to Tonelli in the neutral zone. “Al Arbour would have killed me for that when I got back to the bench,” said Henning, now a VP with the Vancouver Canucks. “Good thing I never got back to the bench.”
He reminded me that an injury to Wayne Merrick forced a shuffling of the lines. “Turns out I was near the end of my playing days, but getting the chance to play with Johnny T and Bobby Ny…well, that made me a younger, quicker, better player for a few shifts,” said Henning. Of his pass to Tonelli, Henning said he didn’t have to think twice. “Getting the puck to JT anywhere on the rink was always a good idea.”
With each year, the details get a little hazier for me. Of course, I remember watching the Islanders beat the Flyers in overtime in Game 6 on May 24, 1980 at my family’s home in Hicksville. I’ll always recall some guy named John Paddock sending the game to overtime when the Flyers scored twice in the third to tie it. (Coincidentally, Paddock scouted the Western Conference Final for the Flyers in Chicago when I was there last weekend).
More than anything, I remember what it was like to go to school two days later and celebrate with my fellow Islanders fans and aggressively rub it in the noses of the Rangers fans. They had been feeling good about their team just a year earlier.
On Saturdays in my early adolescence, I delivered the Pennysaver. My hope is that the 30 years distance provides a statute of limitations for me with anyone on Cliff Drive and the neighboring blocks who missed all their coupons that week. Somehow around “delivering” the paper, I caught every second of the game.
How about you?
Think about the NHL franchises that have moved over the last 30 years. To name a few:
Minnesota North Stars
What do they all have in common? They failed to capture an NHL title before they were re-located.
If the Islanders do not win one, let alone four Stanley Cups, do you think the franchise would still be around to fight for its survival?
If you were around way back when, tell us what you remember about the Islanders winning their first Stanley Cup on May 24, 1980. And if you weren’t, you’re welcome to discuss what the Islanders’ championship teams mean to you.