“Birth of a Dynasty: The 1980 New York Islanders” by Alan Hahn
August 1, 2012
4 of 5 stars - good
The New York Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cups (hockey’s championship trophy) between 1980 and 1983. This book by Alan Hahn chronicles that first season when the team had the label of a “choker.” This was deserved as the team had much talent but never seemed to be able to win when needed in the playoffs.
That changed during the 1979-80 season when the team added key players such as Butch Goring to go along with so many talented players already on the Islanders’ roster such as Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier and Billy Smith. Al Arbour was the coach of this team and his work is also credited with getting this bunch of underachievers to gel together to create a championship team.
In this book the reader will be taken on the ice, into the locker room and also into the front office of the team. Not only are there recaps of important games during the season, there are also stories from players and a good chapter on the financial struggles of the team. One example of that is that the Islanders were still paying part of the expansion team fee charged in 1972 – seven years earlier!
The best part of the book comes after the Islanders make the playoffs. The game and series recaps along with the stories behind the games make for the best reading in the book. Even though a fan knows the outcome for each series and that, of course, the Islanders become the champions, the details and pictures of that magical spring for Islanders fans will keep the reader turning pages. All in all, a good book that hockey fans will enjoy, especially if their favorite team plays on Long Island.
Did I skim? No
Did I learn something new about the subject? Yes. While it was well-known that the team was struggling financially, I didn’t realize that the team was within minutes of declaring bankruptcy. It is hard to imagine that a championship came that close to disbanding.
Pace of the book: Excellent – kept moving and was easy to read.
Positives: Written with firsthand knowledge of the team and well researched. The chapter of the last game when the Islanders won the Cup, simply titled “May 24, 1980” is great, with stories from players, coaches, media personnel and fans.
Negatives: Several spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors marred what was otherwise a very good book.
Do I recommend? Yes, especially for fans of the New York Islanders.
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