Butch Goring has as good of a view of the Coliseum rafters as anybody in his role as the Islanders’ TV color commentator. Now, he has a front-row seat to his own No. 91.
The Islanders retired Goring’s number Saturday, honoring the man who many believed to be the final piece to the puzzle in the franchise’s four straight Stanley Cup wins from 1980-84.
“I see those numbers and it reminds me of how great those guys really are and how much fun it was to play with them, what a privilege it was to play with Hall of Famers, for the most part,” Goring said before the ceremony, ahead of the Islanders’ 4-0 loss to the Bruins. “You can dream a little bit about, ‘Maybe one day, who knows? Maybe someone’s gonna push in the right direction.’
“I’m truly thankful for this moment to be able to watch my number, my jersey go to the rafters. I don’t know if that was going to happen a few years ago. But it’s going to happen now and really that’s all that matters.”
John Tavares wore No. 91 for the Islanders from 2009-18 before the captain unceremoniously left in free agency. But that helped open the door for the Islanders to retire No. 91 for Goring nearly 40 years after he first put the sweater on. The Islanders acquired Goring from the Kings during the 1979-80 season and won their first of four straight Cups that year. Goring won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in 1981.
“Every time you hoist the Cup, that’s just a great memory,” said Goring, who was known for his trademark helmet and also coached the Islanders from 1999-2001.
Goring’s number retirement came less than two weeks after his former teammate, John Tonelli, had his No. 27 retired. Saturday, Goring joined him and the rest of the stars of the franchise’s dynasty — Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Bob Nystrom, Billy Smith and general manager Bill Torrey and coach Al Arbour — in the rafters.
“Now my jersey’s going in the toy department,” Goring said, using one of his analyst catchphrases — meaning the top of the net, or in this case, the top of the arena.
Cal Clutterbuck was activated off long-term injured reserve and played for the first time since Dec. 19, when his wrist got cut by the skate of Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. He played 10:08 on the fourth line, trying to bring back the Islanders’ identity.
“It was not the kind of game you wanted, but it was nice for me to get out there,” Clutterbuck said.
Defenseman Andy Greene also returned to the lineup after a one-game absence for an injury suffered against the Rangers on Tuesday.