BEHIND THE NUMBER: #23

Islanders legend Bob Nystrom has his number hanging from the rafters. Find out why he picked 23.

Monday, 08.23.2010 / 9:00 AM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
X
Share with your Friends


BEHIND THE NUMBER: #23
As one of the New York Islanders original 1972 draftees, Bob Nystrom was one of only two players from the original team to play on all four Stanley Cup Championship teams. As the youngest team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup, Nystrom is in many ways a symbol of the beginning of the Islanders dynasty.

“Seeing my number in the rafters definitely still has meaning. Every time I come to the building, it’s kind of like I don’t believe it,” Nystrom said. “There are many players that have played with the Islanders that have certainly had more points and goals and things like that. So, to be recognized for my work ethic and also for the work in the community, I think that was just a tremendous thrill for me.”

Nystrom, who played his entire 14-year professional career with the Islanders, couldn’t have been more proud watching his number raised to the Coliseum rafters.

“I was absolutely thrilled when they asked to retire my number. The primary reason is because my mom and dad and my sister came down,” Nystrom said. “Just from my parents’ standpoint, to see the pride in their eyes when they lifted the number to the rafters was an incredible experience. My dad’s buttons were popping off his shirt. That in itself was just a huge thrill for me.”

But the native of Stockholm, Sweden didn’t get his start with the Islanders without a two-year stint in the Western Canada Hockey League. In 130 games for the Calgary Centennials during the 1970-71 and 1971-72 seasons, Nystrom scored 42 goals and 41 assists for 83 points, earning 331 penalty minutes along the way.

Nystrom was selected by the Islanders in the third round, 33rd overall, of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft and the 19-year-old did what every other new draft choice would have done, he moved his life from Calgary, Alberta to Long Island.

When he arrived on the Island, Nystrom chose to wear his childhood sweater number 14. “I have always kind of been number 14,” Nystrom said. “I always wore number seven or 14 when I was really young.”

But after camp, Nystrom quickly snatched up a different sweater number for the 1972-73 season – the number five. “The reason I liked the number five was because I was a real big fan of Boom Boom Geoffrion (Joseph André Bernard Geoffrion),” Nystrom said.

Geoffrion was a right winger who played for the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers. As a six-time Stanley Cup Champion, his claim to fame was his roaring slap-shot, which he claimed to have invented while playing junior hockey. Geoffrion was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 – the same year Nystrom was drafted by the Islanders.

“I got the nickname Boom Boom from my coach when I was younger because I was a right winger. I always wore the number five from that point on,” Nystrom said. “But it wasn’t until the second year that I was with the Islanders that I started wearing sweater number 23. The reason that I took 23 was because even though I wanted number five, Denny Potvin came in the second year and he asked if he could possibly get five.”

I got the nickname Boom Boom from my coach when I was younger because I was a right winger. I always wore the number five from that point on. But it wasn’t until the second year that I was with the Islanders that I started wearing sweater number 23. - Bob Nystrom
“That’s the number he (Denis Potvin) wore in junior if I am not mistaken,” Nystrom continued. “To me, it really didn’t make much of a difference. It was not that I was really tied to that number. So I just made the change to 23 just because the two individual numbers added up to five.”

So in less than a year with the Islanders, Nystrom changed his number three times – from 14 to five to 23. But Nystrom wasn’t the only Islanders player to sport the sweater.

Garry Howatt, the first Islanders player to wear sweater number 23, changed his sweater number to eight after Don Blackburn was traded to the Minnesota North Stars mid-season. Howatt joined the Islanders after being selected in the 10th round, 144 overall, of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft.
He played nine seasons with the Islanders helping them win their first two Stanley Cups.

Once Nystrom retired, Randy Hillier took over sweater number 23 at the beginning of the 1991-92 season where he played in eight games and earned 11 penalty minutes before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres to conclude his 11-year NHL career. Later that season, Rick Green closed out his 15-year NHL career by playing in his last four games wearing Islanders sweater number 23.

Vladimir Malakhov was the fifth and last Islanders player to boast the number 23. In three seasons for the Islanders, Malakhov played in 166 games, scoring 27 goals and 98 assists for 125 points and 171 penalty minutes before a mid-season trade to the Montreal Canadiens.

Sweater number 23 was retired in honor of Nystrom on April 1, 1995.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

NewYorkIslanders.com is the official Web site of the New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P. and NewYorkIslanders.com are trademarks of New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P.  NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

Privacy Policy |  AdChoices |  Terms of Use |  Contact  Us |  Employment |  Webmaster |  NHL.com Terms of Use