The New York Islanders’ future home at Belmont Park looks like it’s going to be spectacular.
From every rendering released so far by the team, the entire setup just screams modern and will honor the tradition and rich history of the franchise on Long Island.
But what about the statues being a part of that setup?
Retired numbers are one thing; a statue means that player or executive deserves to be a landmark.
For Isles fans, a statue or two of the franchise’s most famed faces has been a topic in recent years and was once again a subject yesterday on Newsday’s Island Ice Podcast, hosted by the paper’s Islanders beat writer, Andrew Gross.
Gross’s suggestion — or opinion for that matter — was to build a Mike Bossy statue, one showing the memorable jumping celebration of his 50th goal in 50 games back in 1981. A few others he thought might work could be Bryan Trottier, Tonelli to Nystrom celebrating the clinching goal from the Isles’ first Stanley Cup in 1980, or “The Architect” Bill Torrey.
If the Isles were to follow Gross’s recommendation, they would join several of the NHL’s most iconic organizations who have bestowed the honor upon one or several players for what they accomplished during their careers with their respective clubs.
The New Jersey Devils have a statue of Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur outside Prudential Center in Newark, while the only other franchise in the area — the New York Mets — were set to reveal a statue of franchise legend Tom Seaver this summer outside Citi Field. But the coronavirus pandemic altered those plans completely.
Look, Belmont is going to have everything Islanders fans envisioned would be to represent them and the team they love. And that means there should be statues to add to the mystique the building is going to represent.
If they had one, it would be great. There are so many deserving people who could be chosen to be given a statue for the part they played in making the Isles franchise what it is today. What if they had several though? It would be something.
Imagine walking through the beautiful new entrance and the first thing that greets you is a statue of Al Arbour or Torrey, or them together.
That’s as Islanders as it gets.
Arbour already has a practice rink at Northwell Health Ice Center in his honor for which the Isles named in 2016, but he is more than deserving of his own sculpture to be displayed in the Isles’ new palace. The greatest coach in team history and one of its pillars, Arbour is considered Long Island royalty for how he turned the Isles from a lowly expansion outfit into one of the greatest hockey dynasties of all time.
Torrey was the man who ran the franchise for over 20 years, starting with the team’s inaugural season in 1972-73. He saved the organization many of times from going under and drafted and developed some of the greatest players to ever play the game. Oh, and he built a team that went to five straight Stanley Cup Finals, winning four of them in a row from 1980 to 1983.
Denis Potvin, Bossy, Trottier.
Potvin was drafted by the Islanders in 1973 and played his whole career with the team. His accolades also speak for themselves. Bossy and Trottier are the two greatest forwards the franchise ever developed and were the straw that stirred the drink.
Clark Gillies and Billy Smith. Both icons and two of the greatest characters to ever grace the club.
Bobby Nystrom. The player who scored the most important goal in franchise history. Known as “Mr. Islander”.
What about if the Islanders decided to put all of those names I listed above as a part of one sculpture? It would be incredible.
The Toronto Maple Leafs outside their home building, Scotiabank Arena, have what they call “Legends Row”. They unveiled it in 2016 as a part of the franchise’s 100th-anniversary celebration. Ironically, when the Islanders do officially move to Belmont for the 2021-22 season, it will actually be their 50th anniversary season. So, what better way to honor the old with the new than with that same idea?
Again, there still a lot of time for the franchise and ownership to consider who gets their own statue. Having them either in or outside the building is the right move and will be great for the old generation of Islander fans and the bridge for the new generation.