Al Arbour, who coached the New York Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup championships and ranks as the NHL's second-most winningest coach, has died, team officials announced Friday. He was 82.
The cause of death is unclear, though Arbour was battling a lengthy illness and had been living in Florida. Arbour transitioned from a successful 14-season NHL playing career as a defenseman to become one of the league's all-time best coaches.
Beginning in 1973-74, Arbour led the Isles to 15 playoff appearances and won 119 playoff games — an NHL record with one team — over 19 seasons. His 740 career regular-season wins with the Islanders are the most with one NHL team. He retired after the 1993-94 season, before returning to coach his 1,500th game on Nov. 3, 2007.
Arbour was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996.
"Al will always be remembered as one of, if not the greatest coaches ever to stand behind a bench in the history of the National Hockey League," Islanders President and general manager Garth Snow said. "From his innovative coaching methods, to his humble way of life away from the game, Al is one of the reasons the New York Islanders are a historic franchise."
Arbour's death comes at a time when the Islanders are in transition. The franchise is moving from its longtime and outdated home — Nassau Coliseum — in Uniondale, New York, to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn this season.
Arbour was born in Sudbury, Ontario, and broke into the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings during the 1953-54 season. He won two Stanley Cup titles with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1962 and '64. He retired in following the 1970-71 season after four years in St. Louis.
Overall, the defensive-minded Arbour finished with 12 goals and 58 assists in 626 career games.
He is survived by his wife Claire, and children Joann, Jay, Julie and Janice.