Alger Joseph "Radar" Arbour - Born November 1, 1932 in Subury, Ontario – Died August 28, 2015 in Sarasota, Florida was a Canadian ice Hockey defenceman, coach, and executive.
The Detroit Red Wings had signed Arbour on their protected list when he was a teenager, and he was a hopeful junior prospect in the Red Wings system
Arbour played his junior Hockey for the Ontario Hockey Association / OHA Windsor Spitfires, starting as a forward, but switched to being a defenceman, where he turned blocking shots into an art form. Arbour took to wearing football pants under his Hockey uniform, to help absorb the puck shots he was blocking.
NOTE - there are many statistical internet pages that show Arbour played for the Detroit Hettche in the 1949-50 season, but look at the numbers. Arbour would have been 17 years old playing in a professional league (IHL) scoring 14 goals, 8 assists in 33 games - Not Possible in that era.
Arbour was named captain of the Windsor Spitfires to start the 1951-52 season, and had a career year as a junior, scoring 7 goals, 12 assists in 55 games.
During the 1952-53 season, while playing for the Spitfires, the Red Wings sent Arbour to play 4 games for the Eastern Amateur Hockey League / EAHL Washington Lions, and also to the Edmonton Flyers, where he got his first taste of Professional Hockey in the Western Hockey League / WHL, playing the final 8 regular season games with the Flyers, and 15 playoff games, helping them win the 1953 Lester Patrick Cup Championship as Western Hockey League champions.
Arbour then made his NHL debut for the Red Wings on October 8, 1953 vs the New York Rangers, and played a total of 36 regular season games for Detroit before being sent to the Sherbrooke Saints of the Quebec Hockey League / QHL to finish the season. Arbour got his name on the 1954 Stanley Cup without ever playing in the playoffs for Detroit.
Arbour split the 1954-55 season between the WHL Edmonton Flyers and QHL Quebec Aces, then played the 1955-56 season with the Edmonton Flyers, but did get to play in the 1956 Stanley Cup final vs the Montreal Canadiens, scoring 1 assist for Detroit in 4 games played.
Arbour started the 1956-57 season back in Edmonton, playing 24 games before Detroit recalled him back to the NHL, finishing the season and playoffs for the Red Wings.
Arbour played his first full season in the NHL during the 1957-58 season for Detroit, and was then claimed / signed in the off season by the Chicago Black Hawks, where he started the 1958-59 season, playing the next 3 years in Chicago, helping the Black Hawks win the 1961 Stanley Cup championship.
The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Arbour to start the 1961-62 season, and he would help the Maple Leafs win the 1962 Stanley Cup championship. Arbour only played 4 games for the Maple Leafs during the 1962-63 season, playing most of the season with the American Hockey League / AHL Rochester Americans.
During the 1963-64 season, Arbour played most of the season with Rochester (60 games), 6 regular season games with the Maple Leafs and 1 playoff game, which qualified Arbour to have his name on the Stanley Cup, which Toronto won, but his name was not engraved / stamped on the trophy.
Arbour played with Rochester for the next 3 seasons in Rochester, helping them win Calder Cup championships in 1965 and 1966, and reaching the Calder Cup final in 1967.
When the NHL expanded from six to twelve teams in 1967, the St.Louis Blues needed defensemen. The Blues new general manager Lynn Patrick chose Arbour for his starting blue line, and also named Arbour the 1st captain of the St. Louis Blues.
In 1968 the Blues gained a playoff berth and reached the Stanley Cup Final against the Montreal Canadiens. Although Montreal beat St. Louis in a four-game sweep, every contest was decided by a single goal.
Under Arbour's captaincy, St. Louis reached the Final again in 1969 and 1970, bowing out each time in four straight. No question, his playing days were numbered and when coach Scotty Bowman chose to move into a managerial role Arbour became head coach in 1970. He also played 22 games for the Blues during the 1970-71 season.
Arbour coached the Blues for 2 seasons plus, making the playoffs in both 1971 and 1972, but on November 7, 1972, Arbour was fired by Blues owner Sid Salamon III.
Almost immediately the Atlanta Flames offered him a scouting gig and Al accepted - until something better came along. Sure enough, Bill Torrey showed up asking Arbour to become the New York Islanders coach.
Almost immediately the Atlanta Flames offered him a scouting gig and Al accepted -- until something better came along. Sure enough, Bill Torrey showed up asking Radar to become Islanders coach.
In his first season as Isles' coach in 1973-74, Arbour's team finished last in the league for the second year in a row, but gave up 100 fewer goals and earned 56 points, up from 30 the year before.
The 1974–75 Islanders finished third in their division with 88 points, which qualified them for the playoffs, where they defeated the Rangers in overtime of the deciding third game of their first-round series. In the next round, the Isles found themselves down three games to none in a best of seven quarter-final series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders rebounded with three straight victories to tie the series, then prevailed in Game 7 by a score of 1–0. It was only the second time in major sports history, and the first since 1942, that a team won a series after trailing 3–0. The Islanders then faced the Philadelphia Flyers in the next round, again fell behind 3–0, and once again tied the series, although the Flyers prevailed in Game 7 and went on to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.
Despite achieving great regular season success, culminating in the 1978–79 campaign in which they finished with the best record in the NHL, the Islanders suffered a series of letdowns in the playoffs. In both 1976 and 1977, they lost in the semi-finals to the eventual champion Montreal Canadiens, and then suffered an upset loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1978 quarter-finals, on a game-winning goal by Lanny McDonald in overtime of Game 7. Then, in 1979, the rival Rangers defeated Arbour's Islanders in the semi-finals 4–2. Following the 1978-79 season, Arbour was presented the Jack Adams award as the NHL's top coach.
During the 1979–80 season, the Islanders struggled with only 39 points during the regular season, finishing 2nd in their division. However, following the acquisition of Butch Goring in March, the Islanders completed the regular season with a 12-game unbeaten streak. The regular season run carried over to the playoffs, as the Islanders defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3–1, the Boston Bruins 4–1 and the Buffalo Sabres 4–2 to advance to the Final vs the Philadelphia Flyers. In game one of the finals, Denis Potvin scored the first power-play overtime goal in Stanley Cup Final history. In game six, Bob Nystrom scored the Cup winner in overtime, his fourth career overtime goal, at the time putting him alone behind Maurice Richard's six on the all-time overtime goal-scoring list. Ken Morrow joined the team after winning the Olympic gold medal and added the Stanley Cup to cap a remarkable season.
Arbour and the Islanders went on to capture 3 more Cups in a row, a record for an American Hockey club. They also became only the third NHL club to win four consecutive Stanley Cups. Along the way, they set records for consecutive regular season victories, consecutive Finals victories, and playoff series victories. By the time the Islanders were dethroned by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1984 Stanley Cup Finals, they had strung together 19 straight playoff series victories, a professional sports record. No team in any of the four major sports has strung together four consecutive championships since.
Arbour retired from coaching following the 1985–86 season and accepted a position in the Islanders front office as vice-president of player development.
Following a disappointing start to the 1988–89 season, Islanders G.M. Bill Torrey fired coach Terry Simpson, and Arbour returned to the bench. Most of the veterans of the dynasty had since left the team, and the Islanders missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Arbour had one more run deep into the playoffs in 1992–93, where he led the Islanders past the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins and to the Prince of Wales Conference Finals. Islanders star Pierre Turgeon, who was seriously injured after Dale Hunter hit him from behind in the previous round, missed all but a few shifts of the second-round series against Pittsburgh. The Mario Lemieux-led Penguins had finished first in the regular season. Arbour's Islanders defeated Pittsburgh in overtime of the seventh game of the series. In the semifinals, the Islanders lost to the eventual champion Montreal Canadiens.
Arbour retired after the 1993–94 season, having led the Islanders to a second playoff berth where they were swept in the first round by the Presidents' Trophy-winning New York Rangers, who went on to capture the Stanley Cup. At that time Arbour had won 739 games as an Islander coach, and a banner with that number was raised to the rafters at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on January 25, 1997.
On November 3, 2007, Arbour returned, at the request of Islanders coach Ted Nolan, to coach his 1,500th game for the Islanders. At age 75, he became the oldest man ever to coach a National Hockey League game. The Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3–2, giving Arbour his 740th win. The 739-win banner was brought down, and replaced with one with the number 1500, representing the total number of games coached. He is the only coach in NHL history to coach 1,500 games for the same team.
He never skated for an NHL team that missed the playoffs. In 24 seasons behind an NHL bench, Arbour’s teams missed the playoffs just three times.
Arbour learned under some of the best as a player – Jack Adams and Tommy Ivan in Detroit, Punch Imlach in Toronto and Scotty Bowman in St. Louis.
Proving that great coaches beget future coaches, several of Arbour’s pupils – Dave Lewis, Butch Goring, Duane Sutter, Lorne Henning, Bert Marshall, Bill MacMillan, Terry Crisp, Gord Lane and Ken Morrow – followed him into the coaching ranks.
Arbour’s NHL games coached (1,607) and wins (782) wins are second only to the 2,141 games and 1,244 wins posted by Bowman.
Al Arbour was inducted into the Rochester Americans Hall of Fame in 1986.
Al Arbour was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to American Hockey in 1992.
Al Arbour was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996.
Al Arbour was inducted into the New York Islanders Hall of Fame in 1997.
Al Arbour was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.
Al Arbour was inducted into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.