As awful as that Notre Dame contest was to watch on Saturday afternoon, I had a nice walk down Memory Lane on Saturday night.
Al Arbour came back to coach the Islanders in a one-night stint against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum. Arbour had coached 1,499 games with his two stints on Long Island, and the team came up with the idea of bringing Al back for one final game to make it an even 1,500. (He coached his last game 13 years ago.)
It was so special to see the man who led the Islanders to four Stanley Cups in the early 1980s back behind the Islander bench again. He had current Islanders coach Ted Nolan beside him as his assistant.
Pittsburgh led for most of the contest 2-0, but the Islanders came back in the third with three goals, two by Miroslav Satan. The Coliseum erupted when Satan put in the game-winner with just more than two minutes to play. The Islanders held on for the win, and give Arbour his 740th win. 740 wins and 1,500 games are both NHL records for a coach with one club.
After the game, the club had a special ceremony honoring Al, as they brought out his family as well as many of his former players, like Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier and Clark Gilles. The "739" banner that hangs in the rafters for Arbour was lowered, and a new "1500" one was brought out and raised to the top of the Coliseum to the cheers of the sellout crowd who stayed to witness it. (A new "740" banner will be unveiled later this season when the Stanley Cup championship teams are honored as well.)
It was a very special moment to see, and the Islanders did a wonderful job honoring their beloved, Hall of Fame coach. Al Arbour has always been one of the classier men in sports, and was genuinely touched by the outpouring of affection for him by the Islanders fans.
It brought back such great memories for me, when the Islanders were the class of the NHL and winning four consecutive titles. It sure doesn't seem like it was over 25 years ago.
But for one night, they were ruling the roost once again. It was good to see you back behind the bench again, Al. Thanks for the sweet memories.