The story of the 1979-80 New York Islanders
“Dynasty” is a word that’s been tossed around in the hockey world a lot in the last decade. What does it take for a team to be a dynasty in the NHL today? Two Championships in three years like the L.A. Kings? Three Cups in six years like the Blackhawks? Two in back-to-back seasons like the Penguins? The fact that you can’t spell “dynasty” without “nasty” like the Bruins?
While we ponder this, it’s impossible to deny teams like the Oilers’ winning five Cups in seven years, and the Islanders gobbling up four in a row in the 1980s were clearly dynasties. When the Islanders won their first of four straight Stanley Cup Championships, did they know they were on the precipice of greatness? I guess it’s easy to look back and think they may have had an idea that something special was just beginning to brew, but every team that lifts the Cup probably thinks they’re going to repeat the feat next year.
When recently digging through a local record shop, I came across this “audio yearbook” from 1980 celebrating the New York Islanders first Stanley Cup Championship. Why a record? While there were VCRs back then, most household didn’t own them, and those that did just keep them in the bedroom next to their copies of Debbie Does Dallas. But everyone had a record player!
“…The Chemistry was just right!” is a pretty well-produced record of the Islanders rise from an expansion team to a Stanley Cup champ Brought to you by Chemical Bank, which I can only guess was some sort of mafia cover, it’s a compilation of radio play-by-play action as well as interviews of the players, coach Al Arbour and many others involved with the team, all tied together with great narration by legendary broadcaster Bob Lawrence.
Also, the introduction by the Kennedy-esque Johnathan Schwartz being accompanied by some really smooth 70’s music makes you think he’s hitting on you while enjoying a mid-shelf brandy in a grand red velvet chair wearing a tight suit made of an unnatural fiber. In fact, much of the music that accompanies this consists of some brilliant vintage tunes. I kind of wish I’d found some of that at the record shop instead of this, but oh well. You can give the album, which clocks in at around 41 minutes, over here on YouTube.
While we wait to see if today’s Islanders can keep Tavaras on board and dream of a return of the Fish Sticks jersey (make it happen, Adidas!), they and everyone else can enjoy the magic of the 1980 Stanley Cup Champs because….the chemistry was just right!
Jim Howard is a Carolina Hurricanes fan and reformed baseball card collector who is trying to keep the hockey collection from becoming overwhelming. And while he wishes he could give Crosby the business with his mitt, he is in fact NOT the goalie for the Red Wings. ■