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Legendary coach Al Arbour welcomes fan notes in battle with dementia

Josh Elliott
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Al Arbour coaches his 1,500th game alongside Ted Nolan (Mike Strobe / Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Legendary coach Al Arbour welcomes fan notes in battle with dementia

Josh Elliott
By:

Eight-time Stanley Cup winner Al Arbour is battling dementia and living in anonymity at a Florida retirement home these days. Why not shoot him a letter to remind him of his glory days?

The man who led the New York Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cups is now looking for a little motivation from his fans.

Hall of Fame coach and player Al Arbour, 82, is reportedly being treated for dementia and Parkinson’s disease at a retirement home in Florida. Toronto journalist Howard Berger tweeted a photo of Arbour in Florida earlier this week (since deleted from Twitter).

The photo shows Arbour in a wheelchair in Florida with Jiggs McDonald and Eddie Westfall, the former Islanders broadcast duo. McDonald and Westfall were in Florida earlier this week to visit the Isles legend.

Arbour, McDonald and Westfall remain close friends from the Islanders' dynasty days in the early 1980s.

McDonald told Berger that Arbour is comfortable and in good spirits, but has difficulty speaking and maintaining his balance.

Arbour is also virtually anonymous to the other residents at the retirement home. They have no idea he’s an eight-time Stanley Cup winner.

McDonald added that Arbour would really appreciate any cards and well-wishes from his fans to remind him of his glory days.

And those glory days were glorious indeed. Arbour won four Stanley Cups as a player, first with the Detroit Red Wings in 1954, then with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1961 before capturing two more as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs (1962 and 1964).

He won four more Stanley Cups as coach of the dynastic New York Islanders from 1980 to 1983, and was behind the bench for the Isles’ loss to the Edmonton Oilers the following year in 1984.

His 782 wins as a coach puts him second all-time behind only Scotty Bowman.

He retired as a coach following the 1993-94 season, but returned to the Islanders bench to coach his 1500th game in 2007. The Islanders won that game, giving Arbour his 740th win as an Isles coach.

So if you can find a stamp and an envelope, send Al Arbour a note. Not only will it give him a boost, but it’ll show the other retirement home residents that they are in the presence of a beloved hockey legend.

Send mail to:

Al Arbour
The Pines (The Garden)
1501 N. Orange Ave.
Sarasota, Fla. 34236

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Legendary coach Al Arbour welcomes fan notes in battle with dementia