Following the passing of legendary Islanders coach Al Arbour on Friday, Florida Panthers Alternate Governor and former New York Islanders GM/President Bill Torrey talked about his long working relationship and even longer friendship with Arbour, saying that “he was a special person.”
Torrey recalled bringing Arbour to Long Island as he continued to build the budding expansion franchise. “I had to convince him… he hesitated coming to Long Island. He was all about winning; he wanted to know how we were going to turn it around.” The team had struggled as Torrey remained to committed to building a team through the draft and developing prospects instead of making moves to win now.
“Once he said yes, he never took a backward step and treated his team as his family.” He continued that he “never regretted a day with [Arbour].”
Denis Potvin called him “a great man,” recalling meeting Arbour at age 19 and the long relationship they would enjoy, with Potvin playing under Arbour for 13 years. “He was a tremendous mentor on and off the ice.”
While Torrey said that Arbour was “very much saddened” about the Islanders leaving their long-time home for Brooklyn, where they will begin to play in the 2015-16 season, he recalled the last time he saw Arbour, shortly after the 2015 draft. Torrey wore an old Islanders t-shirt. When Arbour saw the crest on his shirt, a big smile came over his face.
RELATED: An Open Letter to Al Arbour
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.