For this entry in our NHL Saturday series, we stumble onto the final year of the New York Islanders’ dynasty run of four straight Stanley Cup titles. Again, since we have started this column, we have seen just four teams win the Cup in 16 seasons. Will there be more diversity ahead in terms of spreading Lord Stanley’s love around? Only time will tell.
For now, this is what we have in Year 4 of the Islanders!
1983 Hart: Wayne Gretzky (original, confirmed)
Not only did Edmonton Oilers center Wayne Gretzky win another Hart vote, but he also posted the highest Point Shares (17.99) mark among forwards by 6.8 PS. Islanders right wing Mike Bossy was next at 11.19 PS, leaving us no choice but to confirm the Great One’s fourth consecutive Hart nod here. Don’t feel bad for Bossy, as his Isles swept the Oilers in the Cup Finals.
Gretzky’s numbers were a little lesser than last year: only 71 goals and 196 points this time, but his 125 assists were an improvement. He also led the NHL in plus/minus rating (plus-61), short-handed goals (6), and shots on goal (348). With 106 points in the standings, Edmonton topped the Campbell Conference as well.
We should remind our readers that Gretzky won eight straight Hart votes (1980-1987), so we are only halfway through that right now. Just a fair warning: There may be more of these in the Great One’s future.
1983 Vezina: Pete Peeters (original, confirmed)
Boston Bruins goaltender Pete Peeters won the Vezina vote, as his team posted 110 points in the standings for the top record in the league. He also posted the most Point Shares (16.50) for a goalie by 5.75 PS over St. Louis Blues netminder Mike Liut (10.75). That kind of gap, like Gretzky’s above, is too hard to ignore.
He led the league with 40 wins, a 2.37 GAA, and 8 shutouts. Strangely, his .903 save percentage was the first of only two times in his 14-season career that Peeters posted a save percentage over the .900 mark, but his career did span the most-explosive offensive era of the NHL (1978-1991).
Peeters also appeared in a career-high 63 games in his first year with Boston after starting his career in Philadelphia. In only one other season did he even top 50 games (1985).
1983 Norris: Rod Langway (original), Mark Howe (revised)
We’re not really sure why Washington Capitals defenseman Rod Langway won the Norris vote with a minus-2 rating and just 5.2 PS. Either way, there were four blueliners who basically doubled him up in that sabermetric measurement: Edmonton youngster Paul Coffey (12.03), Bruins star Ray Bourque (11.57), Philadelphia Flyers veteran Mark Howe (10.79), and Islanders stalwart Denis Potvin (9.91).
Bourque won this award from us in 1980, while Potvin has won it four times (1976, 1978, 1979, 1981). We know the Oilers, Bruins, and Islanders all cruised into the postseason, but what about the Flyers? Yes, Philly did, too. That makes our top candidates hard to separate by anything beyond the Point Shares.
All those things being relatively clear, we will give the nod to Howe for having the highest DPS (6.26) of the bunch. Offensively, his 67 points (20G, 47A) and plus-47 rating were very good numbers, as well.
1983 Calder: Steve Larmer (original), Phil Housley (revised)
We have a little bit of a battle here for the Calder between Chicago Black Hawks right winger Steve Larmer (8.4 PS) and Buffalo Sabres defenseman Phil Housley (8.4 PS). Larmer won the vote for posting 90 points and a plus-44 rating for the Norris Division winners, while Housley posted 66 points and 39 PIMs for the playoff-bound Sabres.
Neither team was in danger of missing the postseason without the contributions of their star rookies, but Housley provided a better balance of OPS and DPS (4.6 and 3.9) than Larmer did (6.3 and 2.0). We like that, especially from a defenseman for a team that finished in third place among Adams Division teams.
For the record, a third rookie—Capitals defenseman Scott Stevens—finished with 6.0 PS, after notching a plus-15 rating with 195 PIMs. We’re not even sure how that’s possible, but we like the combination of skill and tenacity.
1983 Conn Smythe: Billy Smith (original), Denis Potvin (revised)
Islanders goalie Billy Smith won the Conn Smythe vote this time around, for going 13-3 with a 2.69 GAA and a .913 S% in 16 games. However, his backup—Roland Melanson—posted a 2-2 record in the playoffs with a 2.55 GAA and a .911 S% … meaning Smith really was replaceable in this postseason, unlike last year.
Offensively, New York was led by left wing Bob Bourne and his 28 points in 20 games, followed by Bossy with 26 points in 19 games. Potvin provided a lot of balance with 20 points in 20 games to go along with a plus-20 rating and 22 PIMs. We like that a lot.
On the Edmonton side, Gretzky had a whopping 38 points in just 16 games, which is insane—but his team was swept in the Finals, so it’s hard to weigh that out against Potvin’s near perfection, for example. Yet the Oilers certainly would not have even been in the final round if not for the Great One.
However, because Gretzky posted just four points in the Finals, to go along with a minus-3 rating, we will give the award to Potvin for his all-around excellence in securing the Islanders’ fourth straight title.