Today, a former New York Islanders captain celebrates his 55th birthday. No, not Denis Potvin, though he did just turn 63 about a week ago. Nor is it the birthday of Clark Gillies, Brent Sutter or Patrick Flatley. Today is the birthday of former New York Islanders Celebrity Captain Ralph Macchio. Yup, The Karate Kid himself once donned the “C” for the Islanders. Well, sort of.
Back in the 1991-92 season, as a part of the NHL’s 75th Anniversary celebration, all teams appointed a celebrity captain. Some teams went with former players, such as Maurice Richard (Canadiens), Terry O’Reilly (Bruins) and Gordie Howe (Whalers, surprisingly; the Whalers actually had two celebrity co-captains: Howe and singer Susan St. James). Other teams appointed actors or musicians with local ties. The Blackhawks had James Belushi as their celebrity captain, while the Penguins went with Pittsburgh native Fred “Mister” Rogers. Macchio, who was born on Long Island and had several prominent acting credits to his name, made sense as the Islanders’ celebrity captain.
That year, Pro Set included some — but sadly, not all — of the NHL Celebrity Captains in their 1991-92 Pro Set Platinum Series Two set. One of the cards is of Macchio, decked out in an Islanders jersey, prominently displaying the captain’s “C.” He’s also wearing gloves for some unknown reason; perhaps to appear more like a hockey player? (If you’re going to do it, Ralph, do it all the way like the Jets’ celebrity captain did.)
The back of the card details Macchio’s acting credits to date:
Celebrated for his performance as Johnny in Francis Ford Coppela’s The Outsiders and for title roles in The Karate Kid and its successors, Ralph Macchio has been named Celebrity Captain for the New York Islanders. Macchio, who has continued to prove his talent on the screen, stage and television, most recently appeared in the movie My Cousin Vinny and has completed the television film Garwood with Martin Sheen for ABC.
Taking on roles that stretch his career, Macchio portrayed the victim of the progressive aging disease, progenia, in the ABC television movie The Three Wishes of Billy Grier, recently performed in an off-Broadway production of Only Kidding, and starred opposite Robert De Niro in the public theater production of Cuba and His Teddy Bear.
Notice that nowhere does the card mention these three important facts:
1. Macchio was born on Long Island.
2. Macchio starred in the film Crossroads, which culminates in an epic guitar duel between him and Steve Vai….for his soul!
3. Macchio has been a huge Islanders fan since the mid-1970s.
In fact, when the Isles played their last regular season game at Nassau Coliseum in 2015, Macchio put this up on his Twitter timeline:
— Ralph Macchio (@ralphmacchio) April 11, 2015
Twenty-five years later, it has all come full circle for Ralph Macchio, The Karate Kid movies and his role as a former Islanders celebrity team captain. Before their December 23 home game against the Buffalo Sabres, the Isles will give away this:
My worlds have collided! It’s a Ralph Macchio bobblehead figure, decked out in a full Islanders uniform, in a crane kick pose from the climactic moment of The Karate Kid; I can practically hear the song “The Moment of Truth” by Survivor. Hopefully, any fan lucky enough to get one of these will remember to paint a little “C” on the figure’s left shoulder. ■