2006-12-01 / Sports

Bourne Impact Gets Recognized In The Rafters Of The Coliseum

By Brian Bohl

UNIONDALE, NY- Six oversized white jerseys hang from the Nassau Coliseum's ceiling. They represent the retired numbers of the stalwarts who helped forge a playoff run seldom matched in NHL history, winning four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-1983. The names include Hall of Famers like Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Bill Smith and Clark Gillies.

But while those players (Bob Nystrom's no. 23 is retired, though he is not in the Hall of Fame) remain the embodiment of the Islanders dynasty era, the impact of the less heralded players often is unfairly minimized or regulated to an afterthought.

One of those valuable complementary players was Bob Bourne, a speedy left winger that scored 238 goals as a member of all four championship teams. He sits eighth on the team's illustrious all-time scoring sheet, with 542 points- 29 more than the fan favorite-Nystrom.

For his contributions to the glory years, the Islanders did not retire number, but they did immortalize him in their team Hall of Fame. During a pregame ceremony Saturday, the team officially inducted Bourne, raising a banner with his name to the rafters that will stay up until next year's induction. An accompanying banner also was unveiled, which included the names of all hall of fame members.

"I'm shocked, I still can't believe I'm with this group," Bourne said. "I heard about this at the summer time, it's been wonderful for me. We've [his family] just been treated so well."

In a Yankees-like fashion, the Islanders announced plans for an outside monument-park inspired set-up that will include plaques and information for all inductees. That shrine is expected to be completed in the spring and will be located just outside the arena.

As part of the festivities, Bourne will now be one of those inaugural members. Bossy and Trottier, who played frequently on Bourne's line, both addressed the crowd to honor their teammate, drawing a roaring ovation from the 13,214 in attendance.

"No one realizes more than your teammates how much you deserve this honor," said Bossy, who joined Trottier, Gillies, Nystrom in wearing a no.14 jersey as part of the celebration.

Former general manager Bill Torrey also attended, and naturally, "the architect" wore his famous bow-tie. The man who drafted and signed most of the key players during the championship run acquired Bourne in September 1974 for Bart Crashley and Larry Hornung in a one-sided trade with the Kansas City Scouts (now the Devils franchise).

That trade turned out to be a steal. Bourne played 12 seasons in Long Island, appearing in 814 games. The now 52-year-old out of Kindersley, Saskatchewan is well-entrenched in the team's record book, making the top 10 in games, goals, assists, points, short-handed goals and game-winning goals.

"I played against Bobby in juniors, so to play on the same line with him was great," Trottier said. "He scored so many big goals for us and had so much determination. He was hungry and competed hard every game. It's a great honor for Bob and it's wonderful to be a part of tonight."

Bourne did more than just set-up his legendary teammates. He was the team's top playoff scorer during 1983's Cup run, including a famous end-to-end goal against the Rangers during the Patrick Division Finals, a series the Islanders won in six games.

He also ended his career gracefully, winning the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance with the Los Angeles Kings in 1987-1988. The Islanders also cited Bourne's charitable work, which netted him a Sports Illustrated Sportsmen of the Year award honor in 1987 for his fight against spina bifida, a birth defect that is son Jeffrey suffers from. The team gave Jeffrey a modified hockey sled during Saturday's ceremony.

"I grew up in a small farm, so far removed from the NHL, I never really dreamed of playing," said Bourne. "I want to thank the New York Islanders management. I'm really excited that everyone could be here and about the hockey team we're going to watch tonight. You fans treated me so well while I was here. I love Long Island and I miss it.

I became a man on Long Island."

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