New York Islander fans will be happy to hear that Clark Gillies and Bobby Nystrom recently sat down with Chris Peters & NHL odds provider Betway to talk about their success. Not only did they win one Stanley Cup. Not only did they win two or three. They won four!
The longtime teammates and friends were part of the New York Islanders dynasty that brought four consecutive Stanley Cups to Long Island between 1980 and 1984. They also know an awful lot about the struggles a team has to go through before winning a Stanley Cup and the sweetness of finally winning with the same group you’ve battled through with.
But when did it become apparent to them that they had something special?
Bobby Nystrom: It became apparent when we won the Stanley Cup [laughs]. You know what, we had a couple of teams in 1978 and 1979 that we really thought we were right there at that point, especially in ’79 when we won the Presidents’ Trophy. We thought we were on our way, but the playoffs are so totally different.
I would have to say when we got [Miracle on Ice defenseman] Kenny Morrow and [trade acquisition] Butch Goring, I think that really solidified our team. At that point, I thought we could have a run at it.
Clark Gillies: I agree totally with Bob, it was a real learning process for us. It took losing those two years against Toronto and the Rangers. It took losing to help us figure out what we needed to do to put the effort in to win.
One of the things we were missing in ’78 and ’79 was that physicality. Facing the Bruins in the second round in 1980, that’s when we really woke up. Everyone was picking the Bruins to outmuscle us and intimidate us. I think we showed them in a big way that we weren’t going to be pushed around in 1980. It springboarded us to beat the Flyers in the finals and I think from that point on, we had the respect of everyone in the league.
What was their thoughts on coach Arbour? Did they credit the coach at all? Of course they did. They talked about how he knew how to treat certain people.
CG: I’ve always said that the one of our biggest assets was that he knew each and every guy on that team. He knew what buttons to push.
BN: That’s the truth.
CG: He treated me different than Bob, he treated Denis Potvin different from Wayne Merrick. I mean, Denis Potvin…
BN: Tell that story about Denis and the piano!
CG: Arbour would come in and he’d just berate Denny. He would say stuff like: “You know, I don’t mind if you carry a piano on your back, but when you stop and play it, that’s where I’ve got to draw the line.”
BN: That was the funniest thing, the guys were cracking up in the locker room.
CG: Meanwhile, Denny was the best player on the ice and probably already had a goal, but Arbour just wanted to get him fired up and he would go out there and do it the next period.
Needless to say this was a very fun interview for the entire crew. From the laughs to talking about the serious run they had in the NHL. For the full interview, click here!