Coach’s Corner: Honouring greatness of Al Arbour

Don Cherry and Ron MacLean talk about all the news and notes from around the Stanley Cup Final.

The Stanley Cup final features two of the best coaches in the NHL, but Don Cherry paid tribute to a coaching legend in Saturday’s edition of Coach’s Corner.

Cherry offered his support for Al Arbour, who is being treated for Parkinson’s disease and dementia near his home in Florida.

“My buddy Al Arbour is having a tough time,” Cherry said on Hockey Night in Canada. “This guy was an unbelievable coach…When he coached in the NHL, he won four Stanley Cups and another four when he was playing for Toronto, Chicago, and Detroit.”

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Arbour, 82, coached 23 NHL seasons with the St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders, accumulating a record of 782-577-248 (.564 winning percentage) along with a 123-86 post-season record. He won four straight championships with the Islanders dynasty from 1980-83.

“I coached against him and he even caught me on a mistake one time,” Cherry quipped. “I knew him (back) when he was my defence partner. He was the same guy when he won all the (Stanley Cups).”

The 1978-79 Jack Adams Award winner was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 1996.

“It’s tough (to see him in his current state),” Sportsnet analyst Glenn Healy told the St. Louis Post Dispatch in late March. “You know, you’re talking about the greatest coach ever … wow. You know, he was almost like a dad to everybody. He had a great ability, when things weren’t going well, to put his arm around you and just kind of get you out of whatever that funk was.

“He also had that great ability that, when things were going well and you were a bit full of yourself, he’d have you flossing your teeth with his shoelace. He just knew how to get players to buy in to a team concept.”

Arbour ranks second all-time in wins and games coached, only behind Scotty Bowman, in NHL history.

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