In this new series, we will take a look at every single player to wear a New York Islanders jersey. Of course, looking at them all at once would be quite time-consuming and a little insane so we are going to break it down by jersey number. Each installment of this series will be dedicated to all the players who wore the same number during their tenure with the blue and orange. At the end of each installment, we will crown the best player to ever wear that number for the Isles. For the sake of breaking originality, I figured we would start with the number 91. Why should one always get to go first?
When mentioning the number 91 in regards to the New York Islanders, it is common for most people to direct their thoughts to one particular player. This should be expected because of how phenomenal this individual is on the ice. However, the current number 91’s greatness may not be the only reason people immediately attach those two digits to him. Unlike many other numbers, the number 91 has been worn by very few people (two to be exact). Surprisingly, both men to wear this number for the blue and orange were or still are very valuable assets to the organization.
So let’s go ahead and remove this mysterious tone that I have created and take a look at the two men that can be identified as number 91 of the New York Islanders.
Butch Goring (1981-1985)
Goring was traded to New York in March of 1980 and wore the number 21 on his sweater. He scored 19 points in 21 postseason games and played a key role in the Islanders winning their first of four straight Stanley Cups. Goring changed his number to 91 and once again proved to be an extremely valuable asset for the Isles come postseason time. He recorded ten goals and ten assists in twenty playoff games and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy. Goring got to hoist the Stanley Cup on four separate occasions with the Islanders and was a part of one of the great dynasties in NHL history. In his six years with the Isles, Goring recorded 87 goals and 108 assists in 332 regular season games. The blue and orange released Goring in 1985, but he will always have a special place in the Islanders’ history books.
John Tavares (2010-Present)
The Islanders captain and best player will most likely be the last player to ever sport the number 91 for the New York Islanders. Tavares will not only have his number lifted into the rafters when he calls it quits in the distant future, but he could possibly go down as the greatest hockey player to ever wear an Isles sweater. In his 442 games with the Isles so far, Tavares has managed to put up an impressive 179 goals and 233 assists. In addition, no other player has a bigger impact to his team than Tavares does. Whether the Islanders are successful all depends on the play of their captain. The postseason glory has not yet been there for the current number 91 but many expect it to be coming in the near future.
The Verdict: John Tavares
The pickings were quite slim in the battle of the 91’s but one would have to imagine that Tavares would come out on top even if there were ten others who wore the number. A piece of me wanted to give the crown to Goring for now based on the fact that he was apart of four Stanley Cup-winning teams. However, Tavares is by far the better player no matter how many rings Goring is able to rock on his fingers.