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THE DRIVE FOR FIVE
Jack Falla
October 10, 1983
As the New York Islanders filed off the ice after a recent preseason practice, assistant trainer Jim Pickard put the 1983-84 National Hockey League season, which opens this week, in perspective. "I figured it out, guys," Pickard said to the players. "There are only 288,000 seconds left to play in regulation...barring overtime."
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October 10, 1983

The Drive For Five

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As the New York Islanders filed off the ice after a recent preseason practice, assistant trainer Jim Pickard put the 1983-84 National Hockey League season, which opens this week, in perspective. "I figured it out, guys," Pickard said to the players. "There are only 288,000 seconds left to play in regulation...barring overtime."

And, overtime or no, come next April when regulation ends and Stanley Cup play begins, the Islanders will launch in earnest what is already known as the Drive for Five. As the man who will lead his teammates on that drive, Goaltender Billy Smith (behind the controls of the Zamboni machine, left), says, "We have a chance to do something only one other team has ever done." That something is winning a fifth consecutive Stanley Cup, a feat accomplished only by the Montreal Canadiens from 1956 to 1960.

Some team could run the Islanders off the road, of course. Edmonton? Boston? Even Toronto, considering that in the NHL, as has been said, "Not making the playoffs is like not making the phone book."

With that in mind, turn the page for a preview of this season and the playoffs, which are, after all, only 3,024,000 game seconds away...barring overtime.

BEST MOVE, LEAGUE
Overtime.
Overdue.
Last season 127 regular-season games, 15% of the schedule, ended in ties. Now the NHL is introducing a five-minute sudden-death overtime period in order to reduce the number of standoffs. But let's not get too excited. Most teams aren't likely to go hell-bent for a win—worth two points in the standings—when they can be assured of one point for a tie.

BEST MOVE, TEAM
The New York Rangers outsmarted the Detroit Red Wings and at the same time shed their Smurf image by trading for the league's biggest player, 6'5" Defenseman Willy Huber, and a pair of young 6-foot wingers—Mark Osborne, 22, and Mike Blaisdell, 23. In return, the Rangers gave up (read: got rid of) Wing Ron Duguay and also tossed in Wing Eddie Johnstone and Goalie Ed Mio. Duguay was a problem child for Ranger Coach Herb Brooks; he enraged Brooks with his habitual lateness to practices, and the almost daily sight of Duguay's mug in the gossip columns drove Brooks batty. Duguay didn't help matters by slumping 32 points from his 1981-82 total of 76.

WORST MOVE, TEAM
Oo-la-la, Detroit!
There is no reason to believe that Duguay will get along any better with Red Wing Coach Nick Polano, a disciplinarian, than he did with Brooks. And wait until the Blue Jeans Kid learns that last call in the Motor City is 2 a.m., not 4 as in New York, and that there is only one East Side.

WORST FREE-AGENT MOVE
Brad Park from Boston to Detroit. The forwards who tried to scoot around this once-great defenseman in cozy Boston Garden will have a much easier-time of it in the spacious rink at Joe Louis Arena. Park, who is 35 and gimpy-kneed, kissed off any hope he might have had of getting his name inscribed on the Cup. And this for a reported extra $50,000 per year and a couple of Red Wing owner Mike Ilitch's pizza parlors to be named later.

IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME IN THE DRAFT
New York Islanders. After Hartford, drafting second and in need of a gate attraction, inexplicably passed up Pat LaFontaine, the scoring machine from the Detroit area who got 104 goals last season and broke several scoring records in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Islander G.M. Bill Torrey jumped on him. Torrey got a great young talent for late-February arrival; LaFontaine presently is skating with the U.S. Olympic team. After the Games, LaFontaine will join the Islanders and eventually (probably sooner than later) succeed Butch Goring, 33, or Wayne Merrick, 31, as a regular center.

DRAFT? WAS THERE A DRAFT?

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