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Report: Hockey Hall of Famer Arbour battling dementia

Aug 14, 2014, 4:27 PM EDT

AlArbour Getty Images

Earlier this week, new Buffalo Sabres assistant coach Bryan Trottier revealed that his former bench boss, legendary Isles coach Al Arbour, is suffering from dementia.

“We love the man. Today, he’s going through a little tough time with dementia right now,” Trottier explained, per Buffalo’s WGR Radio. “We all love Al for all the great times we’ve had together and his leadership.”

Arbour, 81, coached the Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups in the early 1980s and his 782 career wins are second only to Scotty Bowman on the all-time list. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.

Trottier isn’t the only Sabres coach with a special affinity for Arbour. Current bench boss Ted Nolan put forth a tremendous gesture while coaching the Islanders during the 2007-08 campaign. From the Buffalo News:

Nolan always noticed the signage that honored Al Arbour’s 1,499 games as Islanders coach. During a meeting with owner Charles Wang, Nolan suggested they improve that number by one.

So on Nov. 3, 2007, Arbour accepted an invitation from Nolan and coached on a one-day contract. He led New York to a 3-2 comeback victory over Pittsburgh.

“That whole night, it was kind of like standing behind the bench with Toe Blake, Vince Lombardi. Al’s a legend,” Nolan reminisced. “To see the way the people reacted and see the game the way it went, to come back and tie up Pittsburgh, 2-2, and all of a sudden beat them, 3-2, it was one of those magical nights I’ll always remember.”

  1. hagigun - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:15 PM

    Ted Nolan. About as classy as they come. I am sure he has made his share of mistakes, but every story I hear about this guy it’s all about hockey, working hard, demanding your best effort, and honoring those who paved the way. I do not recall that story back when it happened but that’s pretty cool.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      I vividly recall that evening. It was quite special, and I doubt I was the only person misty eyed at the end.
      Very sad news indeed about Mr Arbour’s health. I have met the man (he and my dad were friends back in their Toronto days), and I wish him and his family the best in dealing with this.

    • 19inarow - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:54 PM

      Do you homework on Ted Nolan before you call him classy.

      • ntvd7 - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:23 AM

        Hard hitting journalism from those at Fox News

        In what was it Ted Nolan or his son NOT classy? C’mon mannnnnn

      • ntvd7 - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:24 AM

        *what way are*

  2. mack21534 - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    Arbour is a legend among NY sports coaches. He has never gotten the credit he deserves from the NY sports writers. Also, all the islander legends say they could not have been the team they were without Al Arbour.

    • wranglerick - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:16 PM

      And arbour would be the first to say….dont care what they think….you know

  3. patthehockeyfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:14 PM

    Sad news, indeed. :(

  4. justanotherphillyfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    Sad… for family and friends.

    It makes it even more tough when you really are listed in the Hall of Fame.
    Just face it if anybody here would get this at some age, lets hope not, but what if.. we will be all bragging about being a Hall of Fame person to our friends.. while all those friends will be like.. Yeah, yeah yeah.. But if you really are listed in the Hall of Fame it makes it double painful because you have dementia but still telling the truth…

  5. spizzjr - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    ^stupid comment anyone who knows hockey knows al arbour is a hall of famer

  6. stcrowe - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:27 PM

    Very sad. I have seen a few people go through Alzheimer’s. You can’t really call it “battling.” It can’t really be fought.

  7. bcisleman - Aug 15, 2014 at 7:58 AM

    All Isle fans honor Al as all sports fans should. Sad that this has happened. Hopefully not a result of his playing days. God bless him.

  8. djshnooks - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    Sad to hear this, prayers to he and family.

    But yes, Ted Nolan is nothing but class. Like the first person said, he’s made mistakes, everyone in this world has made mistakes…the difference is, Teddy learned from his an has not made the same mistake twice. He’s as classy as they come, he loves hockey, he works hard, he demands the same…and the players always give him that because they love him and honor the code of which he lives by.

    The Sabres are coming, like it or not.

  9. macdega - Aug 15, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    Al – the epitome of class

  10. eanxdivr - Aug 16, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    He is a coaching legend. Prayers for the best to him and his family.

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