The New York Islanders are a storied franchise, even if most the significant parts of their story are in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Their 19-straight playoff series wins will likely never be surpassed and the cast of players from that era remains at the center of the Islanders’ universe and the record books.
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That includes players with 100-point seasons, with two exceptions in the late ’80s or early ’90s.
The Dynasty Era
The high-flying 1980s provided the perfect time period for the collection of talented players general manager Bill Torrey put together ahead of and during the Islanders’ dynasty years. Between 1977 and 1986, six different Islanders scored 100 or more points with several of them doing so multiple times. The first was Hall of Famer and all-time Islanders’ leading scorer Bryan Trottier, who reached the 123-point mark in the 1977-78 season.
Trottier followed that up with 134, 104, 103, and 129 points in consecutive seasons and another 111 points during the 1983-84 campaign, his last time hitting the mark in his career. While he was a fantastic player, he had plenty of help during those seasons. Mike Bossy and Dennis Potvin — the latter of which was the first and only Islanders’ defenseman to hit 100 points — joined Trottier with 126 and 101 points respectively during the 1978-79 season.
Bossy and Trottier continued their 100-point seasons through the dynasty years, with one or both of them hitting the mark through the 1984-85 season. During that stretch, Bossy, who famously told Torrey during contract negotiations that he would score 50 goals, became just the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in 50 games. By the end of his short career, Bossy scored 100 points in 7 of his 10 NHL seasons, which included 9 of 10 seasons with 50 or more goals and 5 with 60 or more.
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Following the end of the Islanders’ dynasty, just three players hit 100 points, one of which was Bossy. The other two, who were also part of the Stanley Cup teams, were Brett Sutter and John Tonelli. While his scoring was often overshadowed by Trottier and Bossy, Tonelli always managed to be in the middle of big plays even before his first only 100-point season in 1984-85
Tonelli is most known for setting up Bob Nystrom’s overtime Stanley Cup-clinching goal in 1980, the first of four straight for the Islanders, but he also assisted on Bossy’s 50th goal in 50 games and was at the center of keeping the “Drive For Five” alive during the 1984 playoffs, illegally or otherwise. Stan Fischler considers Tonelli to be “the most underrated Islanders hero from the first Cup right through to this  series.” His number was retired by the Islanders on Feb. 21, 2020, joining Trottier and Bossy, amongst others.
Sutter, one of six brothers that played in the NHL, was never known as a major offensive force for the Islanders. While he was a consistent 20-goal scorer up until the 1984-85 season, he never hit the 50-point mark in his career. That all changed in 84-85 when he put up 42 goals and 60 assists for 102 points. Following that year, he never broke 70 points again, though he did end his career with 829 points in 1,111 games.
Pat LaFontaine Takes Control
With their dynasty in the rearview mirror, the Islanders were looking to return to their former glory as they approached the 1990s. Pat LaFontaine, the Islanders’ first-round pick (3rd overall) in 1983, joined the team after playing for Team USA in the 1984 Winter Olympics in Yugoslavia. The St. Louis native helped propel the Islanders to their fifth Stanley Cup Final in as many years that same season, though they would end their run with a loss to Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers. As the veteran-laden Islanders struggled in the latter half of the 1980s, LaFontaine was expected to be the next wave of great players to bring the Cup back to Long Island.
Hovering around a point-per-game rate from 1984 and 1989, LaFontaine helped keep the Islanders afloat as they attempted to retool with franchise legends Bossy, Potvin, Trottier, and others in decline. He led the team in points from 1987 to 1989, surpassing Trottier as the team’s best offensive player. The 1988-89 season was Trottier’s first time not breaking 20 goals or 50 points.
Luckily for the Islanders, LaFontaine was poised for a big season in 1989-90. For the first time, he hit the 50 goal and 50 assist mark, ending the season with 105 points, which led the Islanders by a wide margin. Brent Sutter, second on the team in points, had only 68 at season’s end. Trottier had his worst season to date, collecting 24 points in 59 games. To this point, LaFontaine was the only non-dynasty-era Islander to crack 100 points in a season.
Pierre Turgeon’s Career Season
The 1992-93 season is considered by some to be one of the best scoring seasons in NHL history. During that season, a record was set for most 100-point players with 21, compared to just nine the season before, and the most 50 goal scorers with 14. One of those players was Pierre Turgeon of the Islanders.
What’s interesting about Turgeon scoring 132 points for the Islanders is he was traded to the team from the Buffalo Sabres in a huge deal that included LaFontaine. (from ‘SABRES DEAL TURGEON, GET LAFONTAINE,’ Buffalo News, 10/25/1991) As many Islander fans know, the relationship between LaFontaine and the team soured during contract negotiations near the end of the 1990-91 season. This led to LaFontaine deciding not to play for the Islanders the following season and instead wait for a trade. Torrey eventually found a trading partner in Buffalo and off he went.
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To add to the story, both LaFontaine and Turgeon led their respective teams in scoring, though the former hit 148 points. Turgeon helped lead the Islanders past the defending back-to-back champion Pittsburgh Penguins and all the way to the Conference Finals, a 4-1 series loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Montreal Canadiens. The Islanders’ series win against the Washington Capitals in the second round of that playoff run stood as their last until 2016, a 23-year drought ended by John Tavares in 2016 against the Florida Panthers.
Turgeon’s time on Long Island was short and he turned out to be the last player to score 100 points for the Islanders. Following his departure, the Islanders fell into years of mismanagement with only glimmers of hope that were quickly traded away. Ziggy Palffy was the last Islander to hit 80 points during the 1997-98 season until Tavares in 2011-12.
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Jon Zella is a 31-year-old, Long Island native currently living in Syracuse, NY. Outside of hockey, he enjoys motorcycles, beer, coffee, and his dog Olive.