Monday, March 23, 2009
Anyone who thinks rotten apples comments or bag skates from Scott Gordon are tough forget some of the things Al Arbour used to do as coach.
* Rookie Denis Potvin's now famous skating session with the legendary coach in 1974 after he missed the team bus for a game in Philadelphia and was told to be at practice the next day and find him there with Arbour and his whistle.
* One day the Islanders showed up at a practice facility to find that an egg had been placed in each of their lockers.
"What Al told the players was, 'If you carried that egg with you last night when you played, you wouldn't have broken it because not one of you touched a soul," Bill Torrey recalled.
Pat Price smashed an egg over Arbour's head and was traded within two weeks.
* The Islanders had played poorly on the road in Los Angeles and Arbour had essentially said that his team had "gone to the dogs." He said they had played like dogs.
The next day they flew to Vancouver and Arbour asked Torrey to go for a walk as he sorted out what was going wrong. On their journey, they stopped at a general store, and Arbour spied a bag of dog biscuits sitting on the counter. He bought them.
"I said Al if you're hungry we can go have lunch with the players," Torrey said, laughing at the memory. "But he had a plan."
Arbour went to the dining area where players were having lunch and he told the waiters to put a plate of biscuits on each table instead of dessert. Arbour and Torrey waited around the corner to monitor the reaction.
"And I remember Al peeked around the corner, and he turned back laughing, ‘can you believe that Stefan Persson just ate one,’" Torrey recalls.
Then Arbour and Torrey heard all of the players barking like dogs, and Arbour knew that he had made his point and had a good laugh at the same time.
* This to go with legendary stories of Al Arbour driving his cars into ditches or an airplane during playoffs or walking off a roof to get a hammer in one story.