Hall of Famer
Inducted in 2001
three Norris Trophies
Recorded 101 points - New York Islanders
Four straight Stanley Cups - New York Islanders
first defenceman to pass 1,000 career points
number 5 retired by Islanders
One of the few star players in junior hockey to play even better in the NHL, Denis Potvin followed in the footsteps of Bobby Orr as a premier rushing defenceman. He played with the Ottawa 67's in the OHA, steadily improving and learning how to rush the puck in the early '70s just as Orr was going in the NHL. Potvin was drafted by the New York Islanders 1st overall in 1973 and joined the expansion team that fall. His rookie season consisted of 17 goals, 54 points, and a staggering 175 penalty minutes as he tried to use skill and toughness to establish himself as a 20-year-old. His performance was enough to garner the Calder Trophy, but still Potvin was learning and had not yet reached his peak. Nor had the Islanders. His second and third years saw steady, significant, and marked improvements as he went from 54 points to 76 to 98 points, incredible numbers for a defenceman. The last of those seasons, 1975-76, gave Potvin his first Norris Trophy, a trophy Orr had won the previous eight years in a row (Orr missed much of that year with another serious knee injury). Potvin established himself as a reliable 25-goal scorer, a number most forwards would have gladly taken. In 1976, he also played on Team Canada at the inaugural Canada Cup at which the great Orr was named tournament MVP. In 1978-79, Potvin reached the 100-point mark for the first and only time in his career, only the second blueliner, after Orr, to reach that milestone. For that he earned his third and final Norris Trophy. He missed most of the first half of the following year recovering from a serious thumb injury, but the shortened season helped him go to the playoffs with plenty of energy. The Islanders won their first Cup that spring of 1980, the first of four consecutive triumphs. Oddly, these Cup-winning years saw Potvin's offensive production dip significantly, but he still contributed 20 goals and 65 points a year. By the time he retired, he had hall of fame numbers, to be sure. In 1,060 career games he had 1,052 points, the first defenceman to pass the 1,000-point mark. He also averaged nearly a point a game in 185 playoff appearances (164 points), and he played in nine All-Star Games. Potvin also has the distinction of being one of the rare modern players who spent his entire career with one team, passing all of his 15 seasons with the Islanders. His number 5 was retired by the Islanders and in 1991 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.