Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Q: on the NYI Hall of Fame

mtrico writes:

Where did the Islanders come up with the idea for the Islanders Hall of Fame? A few years ago, I sent you an email attaching a scan of an article I found in the paper where one of Bob Bourne's sons (not sure if it was Justin) said that his dad was more than a role player on the Stanley Cup teams, and that he was disappointed that he was often refferred to as such. In the email I suggested that Bourne and others like Tonelli should be inducted into an Islanders hall of fame. Did that email ever get to you? Also, will Tonelli be the next inductee? He sure deserves it. Talk about underrated guys, he is at the top of the list.

Good luck with the job search!
p.s. I check more than once a day for new posts, so please keep posting.

Thanks, mtrico. Your email definitely did play a role in the creation of the Islanders Hall of Fame. Jeffrey Bourne also sent a letter to me about his resentment of his dad being referred to as a "role player." That's what we do in sports - we categorize without thinking. Bossy and Trottier are all-stars, so everyone else must be a role player. That's not right, but Justin's letter was. I was moved by a son sticking up for his dad so eloquently.

As several teams do, there was an unofficial policy that only Hockey Hall of Famers would have their numbers retired by the Islanders. There was one exception made: Bob Nystrom, for (then) 25 years of service to the team and the community. When you win four straight championships, you could make the case every man who played on all four teams deserves a night. That said, the line was drawn at Hall of Famers.

The Islanders were looking for a way to honor so many of the men worthy of a spotlight, and the Islanders Hall of Fame was created. A list of rather obvious candidates to be the first inductees was drawn up – John Tonelli, Butch Goring, Ed Westfall, Bourne, Stefan Persson, a few others. Two men were contacted. One, for understandable personal reasons, politely declined for the time being. It was decided Bob Bourne would have his own night. Bob’s only request was that the event be held before a game on Thanksgiving weekend so both of his sons could attend. Justin Bourne is now a forward in the Islanders’ system.

In the Zamboni corner moments before the start of the ceremony, I put my arm around Jeff Bourne and told him his letter was a big reason why we were there. One of the gifts Bob received from the franchise was a hockey sled for Jeff, who was born with spina bifida and is paralyzed from the waist down. His attitude on and off the ice makes Jeffrey Bourne a lot more than a role player. He is an inspiration.


(I will share my thoughts on Mr. Tonelli in a later post).

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