Al Arbour, a member and captain of the original St. Louis Blues team and former Blues and New York Islanders coach, died Friday. The second-winningest coach in NHL history was 82 and had been suffering from a lengthy illness.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Arbours after the passing of our original captain, Al Arbour,” the Blues posted Friday on their Twitter account.
Arbour finished with 782 victories and 1,500 games coached, both the second highest totals in league history behind another former Blues coach, Scotty Bowman. His coaching career began with the Blues, coaching the 1970-71 season and also a second tour of duty in 1971-72.
Arbour took over as coach of the New York Islanders and guided the Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1980 to 1983. At one point in the early 1980s the Islanders won 19 straight playoff series.
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Arbour played in 231 games with the Blues from 1967 to 1971 as a defenseman, ironically still wearing glasses on the ice. He had two goals and 23 points and finished his playing 14-year career with 12 goals and 70 points in 626 regular season games.
Arbour, a native of Sudbury, Ontario in Canada, achieved Hockey Hall of Fame induction in 1996.
After being named coach of the Islanders in 1973, he remained there for 19 seasons and led the team to 15 playoff appearances and a record 119 playoff victories.
Arbour is survived by his wife Claire and children Joann, Jay, Julie and Janice.
“Al will always be remembered as one of, if not, the greatest coaches ever to stand behind a bench in the history of the National Hockey League,” Islanders President and General Manager Garth Snow said in a release. “The New York Islanders franchise has four Stanley Cups to its name, thanks in large part to Al’s incredible efforts. From his innovative coaching methods, to his humble way of life away from the game, Al is one of the reasons the New York Islanders are a historic franchise. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to the entire Arbour family.”
Arbour later joined the Islanders front office in 1985 working with General Manager Bilkl Torrey. He served as head coach again in 1988-89 and led the 1992-93 Islanders to the Eastern Conference finals.
Arbour’s 740 wins with the Islanders is the most with one club by any coach in league history.