New York Islanders fans will be losing more than Nassau Coliseum this season, they will also be without one of the men who helped bring the old arena to prominence.
Al Arbour, the Hall of Fame Islanders coach who combined old-school discipline with out-of-the-box creativity to produce a modern sports dynasty with four straight Stanley Cup titles, died Friday after a long illness. He was 82.
The Islanders confirmed Arbour's passing in a statement Friday.
"Al will always be remembered as one of, if not, the greatest coaches ever to stand behind a bench in the history of the National Hockey League," Islanders president and general manager Garth Snow said. "The New York Islanders franchise has four Stanley Cups to its name, thanks in large part to Al's incredible efforts.
"From his innovative coaching methods, to his humble way of life away from the game, Al is one of the reasons the New York Islanders are a historic franchise. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to the entire Arbour family."
The cause of death is not known, but Arbour had been suffering from dementia and Parkinson's disease.
And when the Isles hang their banners in the rafters of Barclays Center this fall, they will do so with Arbour's legacy: No team in any major sport has won four straight titles since Arbour's Islanders did it from 1980-83. No other NHL team, before or since, has won 19 consecutive playoff series. No coach did it better.