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Al Arbour

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Status: Former coach of the St. Louis Blues and the New York Islanders dynasty. NHL

defenseman from 1953-1971 for Detroit, Chicago, Toronto and St. Louis.

Ht: 6-foot Wt: 180 pounds

November 1, 1932 In: Sudbury, Ont.

First Hockey Memory: "That's a long time ago. I used to skate a lot with my dad, we used to play a lot on Sunday, the games on the creek. We used to play with the dads. We were just about seven years old. And they used to really whap us pretty good. ‘til about five years later when we got to be 11. Then we used to beat 'em by 20-1 or something like that."

Hockey Inspiration: "I have lots of them. Gordie Howe was certainly. Ted Lindsay - feisty. Gordie Howe was just amazing. He could do everything. He switched hands and everything else. He was just an unbelievable hockey player. He's the greatest player that ever lived. He could do everything. Just a natural. He played golf - he never played golf before - within a year and a half he was a zero handicap. Was unbelievable. He used to hit home runs with the baseball players in the old Briggs Stadium in Detroit. He used to hit 'em right out of the park. He was a great athlete. He didn't know what he was doing, but he was a great athlete."

Nickname: "Oh gosh, I was named 'Radar', 'Cinemascope', you name it, I was named everything because I wore glasses when I played junior hockey. I remember when I played in Providence in the American League, the kids would sing, 'When the saints come marching in' and then they used to say, 'Radar, put those glasses on!' The Barney Google glasses. Those were the days, I'll tell ya."

Last Book Read:
"I'm reading a book now - Stieg Larsson, the second book. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest."

Favorite Movies: "I like the old movies."

Current Car: "Toyota Solara."

Greatest Sports Moment: "Winning the first Stanley Cup I guess. The first time we won the Cup with the Red Wings we rolled it down Grand River with our nose. We don't do that anymore. Now they have a guy who checks the Cup, he's with the Cup all the time. You can't do anything with it. Except when I was with the Islanders, we had it at our house for a week and we had it in the back with all the flowers and it looked really good. We had it there. And I remember the Monsignor of the district came over and he got his picture then with the Stanley Cup. So that made our day."

Most Painful Moment: "Losing the Cup. We were playing Edmonton (1984). We lost the fifth Cup."

Favorite Uniforms: "The Blackhawks."

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: "Vanilla."

Favorite Meal:

Musical Tastes: "I like everything, Louis Armstrong."

Favorite Artist: "LeRoy Neiman. He did the serigraph of Bryan Trottier. It's on the wall in my office."

Most Memorable Goal: "I guess when I scored the one goal - I had the empty net - and I missed it. It would have been my second of the game. And imagine me getting two goals in one game? I had the empty net! Missed it (laughs). (Where?) In Toronto. I played for the Leafs then."

Closest NHL Friends: "Barclay Plager was a close friend of mine. Scotty Bowman. Jim Devellano. Bill Torrey - our manager with the Islanders. A lot of them. A lot of friends I don't want to mention here because I might leave some out."

Funniest Players Encountered:
"Clark Gillies called me this week. He said, ‘Al, I just opened a can of beer and I called to say hello (smiles).’ A lot of funny guys. But I don't want to say their names."

Toughest Competitors Encountered:
"Ted Lindsay. He was a fierce competitor. The Plager boys were really fierce competitors."

Childhood Dream:
"I wanted to be either a hockey player or a baseball player, one or the other."

Funny Hockey Memory: "In Chicago we used to fight. Everybody would get on the ice at the same time, both teams, bench-clearing brawl. Every time it was something going on. Everybody was on the ice. We had a big fight in Chicago. And I see this fan climbing up the glass. And this guy from the side - I didn't see him, I saw the other guy - I was gonna punch him. And this guy corked me. He knocked me right out cold. I didn't see him at all."

Favorite Arenas To Play: "Boston. We used to stay at the hotel, we used to go see the Boston Red Sox ballgames. And they used to have the Celtics basketball games before us. And they'd take the floor off in no time, in about an hour and a half, and we'd play hockey that night. It was really something. We used to go there quite often. And we had a good time."

Favorite Players To Watch: "I don't go to too many games anymore. I don't know too many of the players today so it wouldn't be fair. But in the old days there were a lot of players who I played with and against and coached I liked to watch. I'd rather not name names. They're all very, very good. (Other sports?) I like to watch golf a lot. Phil Mickelson is my favorite player. He's a lefty. Of course, I'm a lefty. And I like them all, Palmer, Nicklaus."

Favorite Sport Outside Hockey: "Baseball. I played baseball. I was a pitcher."

People/Personality Qualities Most Admired: "Honesty. The grit. The people who never quit."

Career Accomplishments: Winner of four Stanley Cups as coach of the New York Islanders; Also won four Stanley Cups as a player - with Detroit (1954), Chicago (1961), and Toronto (1962, 1964); Won Jack Adams Award in 1979 and Lester Patrick Trophy in 1992; Won Eddie Shore Award as Outstanding Defenseman - AHL in 1965; Played in 1969 NHL All Star Game; Inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame; Coached Islanders from 1973-1986 then 1989-1994 and also for one game in 2007-2008, his 1,500th game as an Islander coach (Islanders defeated Pittsburgh 3-2, his 740th win as Islanders coach).

Mark 'Scoop' Malinowski is the author of "Heavyweight Armageddon: The Tyson-Lewis Championship Battle" and creator of two websites: and


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