"Al Arbour was a special person," Torrey said during a conference call with reporters. "He was a special man in all of our lives. He was a great family man, he was a great hockey man. Outside of his family nothing was more important to him than his players and his team. Hockey was a major part of his life."
?The National Hockey League deeply mourns the passing of Al Arbour, revered head coach of the dynastic New York Islanders," Bettman said in a statement released by the league.
On Saturday, the Islanders did incorporate Arbour into the pregame ceremony for the regular season finale by inviting his wife, Claire, and their four children to take part in the ceremonial puck drop.
Since news of his health condition broke over the summer, colleagues and former players have been making the trip to visit him. On Thursday Ray Ferraro and several other members of the Isles 1993 team made the trip to see their former coach. Ferraro tweeted out: "Went to visit Al Arbour today with some of our 1993 team-what a great man, had huge impact on our lives - I'm eternally grateful to know him."
Ferraro, an analyst for TSN, expanded on his visit during a hit on Leafs Lunch on TSN 1050 in Toronto
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Then head coach Ted Nolan, now the bench boss in Buffalo, thought of the idea after noticing that Arbour was one game shy of coaching his 1,500th on Long Island. So Nolan and Owner Charles Wang invited Arbour back for one final game so that he could reach the milestone, but, as seen in the video below, Arbour was hesitant about coming back for one game.
EDDIE WESTFALL: I had been there before in the playoffs and overtimes. So my thought was, ??What did we do when I was a Boston Bruin when we got to the playoffs and overtime??? One thing we always said in the Bruin dressing room was, ??When you??re going to go to overtime, you??ve got to win as quickly as possible. You??ve got to be aggressive, you??ve got to take a little bit of a chance. You don??t want to sit back.?? So that??s what we had drummed up in the dressing room. They put out the oldest line on the team - JP Paris?, Jude Drouin, and Ed Westfall. And that??s all we talked about - ??Win the face-off, get the puck in, put pressure on them, and we??ll take our chances down in their end of the ice. They can??t score if the puck??s in their backyard.??
JP PARIS?: I think it was Dave Lewis who dumped the puck into the Rangers corner. And at that time, Jude and I had a play, where he would go to the puck, and just kind of bang it behind the net. I would automatically go to the far corner and receive that pass. We bought time so I could make a play - give him a chance to get back in front of the net or follow behind the net. We had different options. And for some reason, I decided to go to the net, instead. And Jude got to the point, first. One of the Rangers didn??t pick up the puck, so Jude was right on top. He??s the guy that made the whole play - he spotted me going towards the net. All of a sudden, it was right on my stick, and I had a whole open net. I scored, and that??s the last I remembered, because after I scored, I got hit from behind. Brad Park hit me, and I fell down on the ice. But we all went nuts, and the game was over. It was just a great, great feeling.