(Reuters) - Former longtime New York Islanders coach Al Arbour, who ranks second in all-time wins as a coach in National Hockey League, has died at the age of 82, the team said on Friday.
Arbour led the Islanders to four consecutive championships in the 1980s and his 782 regular-season wins behind the bench trails only Scotty Bowman for the most victories in the NHL.
Islanders President and General Manager Garth Snow said Arbour, who coached the team for 19 seasons, “will always be remembered as one of, if not, the greatest coaches ever.”
“The New York Islanders franchise has four Stanley Cups to its name, thanks in large part to Al’s incredible efforts,” he said. “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.”
There was no word on the cause of death, but multiple media reports said he had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
After a short stint coaching the St. Louis Blues, Arbour became head coach of the Islanders at the start of the 1973-74 season. The Sudbury, Ontario, native joined the team’s front office in 1985 but returned to head-coaching duties during the 1988-89 campaign.
He retired from coaching at the end of the 1993-94 season with a total of 1,499 coached games. In 2007, the team brought Arbour back for one game to reach the 1,500 mark.
“Have so many thoughts on passing of Al Arbour,” former Islanders center Ray Ferraro tweeted. “So sad, he impacted my career, life deeply. Rest peacefully Al.”
Arbour, who was elected into the NHL Hall of Fame in 1996, guided the Islanders to 15 playoff appearances and won 119 postseason games. The Islanders won 19 straight playoff series, a record that still stands.
Before getting into coaching, Arbour had a 14-year NHL playing career as a defenseman, winning the Stanley Cup twice. He played for the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues.
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Mohammad Zargham