New York Islanders: Is the team Hall of Fame due for new inductees?

The Islanders hall of fame has had a confusing history. Founded in 2006 by then-owner Charles Wang, they immediately inducted the “Core of the Four” which included Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Bob Nystrom, Billy Smith, Al Arbour, and legendary GM Bill Torrey, all of whom already had their number retired or banner to honor them. The team added Bob Bourne, who ranked fifth in goals and points during the Islanders dynasty from 1979-80 to 1983-84, in November of 2006.

It stayed that way for five years until 2011, when the team’s 40th anniversary season came around. That season they added Ed Westfall, the team’s first captain. Ken Morrow, the big defenseman who was a vital part of the Stanley Cup teams and a front office member. Patrick Flatley, the first non-dynasty era player who also served as captain for five seasons in the early 1990s, and Kenny Jonsson, the 6’3 Swedish defenseman, is the only player who has played in this millennium and is inducted.

When Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin purchased the New York Islanders in August of 2014, they vowed to properly honor the past of the franchise and the players and people involved. They doubled down on that sentiment when they officially became majority owners in the summer of 2016 when they named their, at the time, brand new practice facility in East Meadow after Hall of Fame coach Al Arbour. 

Ledecky said they wanted to “reinvigorate the alumni” and bring them back into the Islanders family. They followed through in October of 2017 when the team hosted the first-ever Islanders Alumni Weekend using the slogan “Once an Islander, Always an Islander,” and over 22 former Islanders attended. That total doubled at next year’s weekend, and all of the Islanders alumni who attended spoke glowingly of the event and ownership. “The sincerity of the ownership group is beyond words,” Mick Vukota, the Isles all-time penalty minutes leader, said. “They’ve extended it to every player, not just players that had 10-year careers, they want everybody to be involved with this organization.”

Their biggest accomplishment, perhaps, was making amends with dynasty legend John Tonelli who, since his bitter exit from the team in 1986, wanted nothing to do with them publicly and got him to drop the opening faceoff before a January 2018 game. Then Tonelli was given the moment he deserved on February 21st, 2020 when the team inducted him into the Islanders Hall of Fame and retired his number 27 jersey. They would do the same thing a week later with another member of the Islanders dynasty with Butch Goring, who has been the analyst on Isles TV broadcasts since 2010.

The odd thing about those ceremonies is that they were the first two Islanders players to be inducted into the team’s hall of fame since the 2011-12 season and just the 14th ever to be added. It would make sense that the team would wait until their move to UBS Arena to add anyone else, but nobody was added during the inaugural season.

With the franchise’s 50th anniversary season coming up just next week, one has to wonder if another slate of inductees is coming, and if so, who will it be?

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Donny Savitsky

People ask what I talk about in the summer with no hockey, I still talk about hockey.

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