From 1980 to 1984, the New York Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cups and made a fifth appearance in the Cup final. In all they won a record 19-straight playoff series, the longest streak in the history of pro sports (one more than the NBA’s Boston Celtics had from 1959 to 1967).
“We felt we could beat anyone – that’s the attitude you develop as a team on a streak like that,” said Mike Bossy, statistically the game’s greatest ever sniper. “With the quality of players we had – Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Billy Smith – it seemed there was always someone there to do the heavy lifting if another of us wasn’t at his best.”
In dissecting the streak, the heavy lifting Hall of Fame center Trottier in particular managed can’t be overlooked. He elevated his game during the dynasty years and in the 1981 post-season tournament, he set a record by producing at least one point in 18 consecutive games (Wayne Gretzky and Al MacInnis came closest to breaking it with a 17-game runs; Gretzky in 1988, MacInnis in ’89).
More impressively, from the period of 1980 to 1982, Trottier had points in 27 straight playoff games – a mark that has even less chance of being broken than his mark of 18 games in a single playoff.
Again, Gretzky was the one to come closest to matching Trottier’s consistency, but the margin of difference was even greater, as ‘The Great One’ could manage only (and we use only in the loosest sense of the word) 19 games spanning two post-seasons.
When you consider Trottier accumulated 42 points during the 27-game streak, it is clear he wasn’t making lemonade from lemons. He was exceptional even in a league of outstanding players because he was surrounded by cream-of-the-crop talent. That’s why Bossy is quick to credit his teammates when discussing his numerous NHL records – and why he believes Trottier or any other player would need a degree of help to reach the collective and individual heights they reached.
“We made each other better players,” Bossy said of Trottier. “He was an amazing talent to begin with, but we challenged each other to push ourselves to the limit.”
This is an excerpt from THN’s 2011 book, Hockey’s Most Amazing Records.