Bob Nystrom

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Bob Nystrom
Born (1952-10-10) October 10, 1952 (age 61)
Stockholm, Sweden
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight 200 lb (91 kg; 14 st 4 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Right
Played for New York Islanders
NHL Draft 33rd overall, 1972
New York Islanders
Playing career 1972–1986

Robert Thore Nystrom (born October 10, 1952) is a retired professional ice hockey right winger. He played for the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League (NHL) from 197286. He is best remembered as having scored the winning goal at the 7:11 mark of overtime to give the New York Islanders the 1980 Stanley Cup title. This signaled the first of four straight championships for the club. He was also among the last NHL players to not wear a helmet during a game.

Playing his minor hockey in Hinton, Alberta, Nystrom is immortalized on the town's wall of fame. He is arguably the most successful NHL player from the geographical area that yielded the likes of Dave Scatchard and Dean McAmmond.

His son Eric plays professional hockey for the Nashville Predators of the NHL, and previously played for the Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, and Dallas Stars.

Early career[edit]

Born Thore Robert Nyström in Stockholm, Sweden, Nystrom came to Canada as a four-year-old and starred for the BCJHL's Kamloops Rockets in 1969–70. He was an emotional sparkplug on the Calgary Centennials of the WCJHL for two seasons and was claimed 33rd overall by the Islanders in 1972. He played half a season for minor league affiliate New Haven Nighthawks of the American Hockey league before being promoted to the Islanders in March 1973, wearing number 5.

Nystrom's first full season with the Islanders was 1973–74, where he tallied 41 points as a rookie, garnering Calder Trophy consideration as Rookie of the Year (the award eventually went to teammate Denis Potvin). As Potvin now used number 5, Nystrom would wear number 23.

Over the next four seasons, as the Islander team improved, Nystrom became one of the steadiest two way forwards in the league. In each of his first five seasons he collected over 20 goals, including a career high 30 in 1977–78, while playing a strong checking and defensive game as well. He was also selected to play in the 1977 NHL All-Star Game.

Stanley Cups and "Mr. Islander"[edit]

Nystrom was one of the hardest working, if not most talented, members of the New York Islanders, who were quickly becoming one of the most feared and respected clubs in the NHL. Although Nystrom, who was nicknamed "Thor" by his teammates,[1] had developed into a very skilled and respected fighter with a physical edge to his game, Nystrom took it upon himself to improve his skating ability.[2] He regularly took power skating classes, including training with pioneering instructor Laura Stamm[3] and in time, became a fairly fluid skater with strong hockey instincts.

As with many of the Islanders of the early 1980s, those instincts seemed to be more in tune when the playoffs rolled around. Nystrom has been known as one of the all-time clutch players in NHL Stanley Cup playoff history. He tallied 39 goals and 83 points in 157 playoff games; however he is most noted for his knack for sudden death overtime winners. Nystrom ended playoff overtime games four times in his career.

On May 24, 1980, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Philadelphia Flyers, Nystrom scored the game winner at 7:11 of overtime to secure the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Nystrom was part of the first NHL team (1979–80 New York Islanders) to win a Stanley Cup with Europeans on its roster.[4]

Nystrom embraced the Long Island community like few others, contributing to various charities in the area and promoting the local businesses whenever possible. By virtue of these distinctions, and coupled with the most famous goal in team history, Nystrom was nicknamed "Mr. Islander."

Later years[edit]

Nystrom continued to be an effective winger through the Islander's Stanley Cup run, but by 1985, his rugged, aggressive play began to wear his body down. He played only 36 games in 1984–85, managing only two goals, though he matched that total in only ten postseason games.

After playing sparingly through the first three months of the 1985–86 season, Nystrom was accidentally struck in the eye by a high stick from teammate Gerald Diduck in practice on January 5. Unable to play due to the severity of the injury (he suffered two tears of the retina, which later required surgery), he was thought to have retired, and he served as an assistant coach for the remainder of the season.

Nystrom had played in 899 regular season games at the time. Islander's coach, Al Arbour, who considered Nystrom one of his favorites, approached Nystrom prior to the Islander's last home game of the 1985–86 season on April 5, and asked him if he would like to dress one more game, in order to make it an even 900 games played; more importantly, it would give Islander fans a chance to say a proper good-bye. Nystrom accepted, and was added to the starting lineup. He took the opening face-off to a surprised and appreciative home crowd's roar. After skating around for about five seconds, he returned to the bench, never to play again.

Nystrom remained an assistant coach the next two seasons, then served as radio analyst for the Islanders. He was named Islanders Director of Corporate Affairs in 1988 and remained in that position through 1988–89 season, when he took a position as Islanders Director of Special Projects in 1989 and remained in that position through 1990–91 season. He was named Islanders Director of Community Relations in 1991 and Director of Amateur Hockey Development & Alumni Relations in 1992. In 1997 he added the title Director of Corporate Relations remained in that position through 2001–02 season.

The Islanders retired his No. 23 on April 1, 1995, although three other players had worn it after Nystrom.

Nystrom has a son, Eric, who was drafted by the Calgary Flames as the number ten pick in the first round of the 2002 NHL Draft, and is currently a forward for the Nashville Predators.

In 2003, he was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. He received the George Young Award, given to that individual, Jewish or non-Jewish, who has best exemplified the high ideals that George Young displayed, from the U.S. National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 2003.[5][6][7][8][9]

Bob Nystrom Award[edit]

In 1991, the Islanders began presenting the Bob Nystrom Award to the player on the team "who best exemplifies leadership, hustle, and dedication." Past winners:

Career statistics[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1970–71 Calgary Centennials WCHL 66 15 16 31 153
1971–72 Calgary Centennials WCHL 64 27 25 52 174
1972–73 New Haven Nighthawks AHL 60 12 10 22 114
1972–73 New York Islanders NHL 11 1 1 2 10
1973–74 New York Islanders NHL 77 21 20 41 118
1974–75 New York Islanders NHL 76 27 28 55 122 17 1 3 4 27
1975–76 New York Islanders NHL 80 23 25 48 106 13 3 6 9 30
1976–77 New York Islanders NHL 80 29 27 56 91 12 0 2 2 7
1977–78 New York Islanders NHL 80 30 29 59 94 7 3 1 4 14
1978–79 New York Islanders NHL 78 19 20 39 113 10 3 2 5 4
1979–80 New York Islanders NHL 67 21 18 39 94 20 9 9 18 50
1980–81 New York Islanders NHL 79 14 30 44 145 18 6 6 12 20
1981–82 New York Islanders NHL 74 22 25 47 103 15 5 5 10 32
1982–83 New York Islanders NHL 74 10 20 30 98 20 7 6 13 15
1983–84 New York Islanders NHL 74 15 29 44 80 15 0 2 2 8
1984–85 New York Islanders NHL 36 2 5 7 58 10 2 2 4 29
1985–86 New York Islanders NHL 14 1 1 2 16
NHL totals 900 235 278 513 1248 157 39 44 83 236

References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Mr. Islander," Bob Nystrom, will be in the chilly seats on Saturday . . . and he can't wait". syracuse.com. February 18, 2010. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  2. ^ Who's Who in Hockey. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  3. ^ Riches, Sam (March 14, 2014). "The Woman Who’s Teaching the NHL How to Skate". Pacific Standard. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  4. ^ Szemberg, Szymon; Podnieks, Andrew (2008). IIHF Top 100 Hockey Stories of All Time. Ontario, Canada: Fenn Publishing, Bolton. p. 74. ISBN 978-1-55168-358-4. 
  5. ^ "Jewish Sports Hall of Fame". Jewishsports.org. October 30, 2008. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  6. ^ Harvey Rosen (October 30, 2008). "Two Jewish skaters crack Calgary Flames lineup". The Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved January 30, 2011. [dead link]
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Laurie Rozakis (2007). The Portable Jewish Mother: Guilt, Food, And...When Are You Giving Me Grandchildren?. Adams Media. ISBN 1-59869-341-7. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  9. ^ Nate Bloom (January 27, 2006). "Celebrity Jews". Jweekly. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 

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