Denis Potvin is one of the all-time great New York Islanders. The Hall-of-Fame defenseman’s name is still taken in vain by New York Rangers fans at Madison Square Garden, part of his enduring legacy as the captain of the Islanders squad that won four Stanley Cups in a row from 1980 to 1984 at the Nassau Coliseum, fondly remembered as “the Old Barn.”
And now Potvin and fellow Isles legend Bryan Trottier are honoring those memories with a group of NFTs in a “Closing the Barn” series of four that includes exclusive artwork by Kevin Briones and interviews with the former players.
Creative studio Flux88 and Fanaply began auctioning off the Gold Edition of the series Tuesday at noon ET via the Fanaply website. The auction closes Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.
With an opening bid of $2,000, fans can purchase a 1-of-1 NFT with Potvin and Trottier that involves in-person interaction with the Islanders legends, depending on the amount finally bid. A $10,000 to $24,999 bid, for instance, includes the artwork, the interviews, and a round of golf and dinner with the pair.
Less exclusive NFTs can be acquired in a direct purchase for as little as $40.
“These are big moments in my career that I don’t get to talk about a lot,” Potvin said. “And now I just put it out there where someone can bid on it, own it, and actually profit from it somewhere down the road if they’re able to resell it. Talking hockey is still fun to me. It seemed like a no-brainer.”
Potvin remains loyal to the club. He was in the stands this past June 24 for what likely was the last hockey game to be played at the Coliseum. He had to quarantine for 14 days to cross the border from Canada to be there for the 3-2 overtime win in Game 6 of the semifinals over the eventual Cup-winning Lightning. The Islanders lost Game 7 at Tampa Bay just a few nights later.
The team’s next home game is scheduled at the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park on Nov. 20 against the Calgary Flames. The Islanders open with their first 13 games on the road as the final construction touches are being made on the new building, part of a $1.3 billion mixed use project adjacent to the famous horse racing track.
As far as greatest moment of so many in the Old Barn, Potvin, now 67, said unequivocally, “the 1980 Stanley Cup is unbeatable.”
Potvin is eloquent when talking about the sport he loves. He ended a more than 30-year career as an analyst on Florida Panther broadcasts in 2019 because he no longer wanted to deal with the travel required during an 82-game regular season, plus playoffs.
His relationship with Trottier is a long and warm one.
“We sat next to each other in the dressing room for what seemed like our whole careers,” Potvin said. “I have more respect for Trotts than any hockey player I’ve ever played with or against. So, it was perfect for us to join forces” for the NFTs.
Potvin played his entire career for Islanders from their expansion into the NHL in 1973 to 1988. Trottier, a Hall of Fame center who scored 500 goals, joined him in 1975 and remained with the Islanders through the 1988-89 season, finishing his career with three seasons in Pittsburgh.
Both were part of history at the Coliseum on May 24, 1980, when Bob Nystrom’s goal at 7:11 of overtime of Game 6 won the Cup over the Philadelphia Flyers and brought the Old Barn down. Trottier was the MVP of those playoffs.
“I was very fortunate. I got in on the ground floor, and had a very good year,” said Potvin, who won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year for that 1973-74 season and later the Norris Trophy three times as defenseman of the year. “But it’s a team game, and that’s why winning as a team for the first time, that stood out by far as the best moment of my career.”
The club’s rivalry with the Rangers was a close second. It was on Feb. 25, 1979, at the Garden that Potvin took out Ranger center Ulf Nilsson with a rough check. Nilsson said his skate got caught in a rut in the usually poor Garden ice, causing him to break an ankle. The Rangers went on to defeat the Islanders in the Cup semifinals that season, only to lose to Montreal in the Finals.
A healthy Nilsson might have meant the difference, Potvin said.
And thus, the chant of “Potvin sucks” began cascading down the Garden rafters and continues to this day, from fans who certainly weren’t even born back then.
“What has it been now, 40 years?”
Potvin said he was bothered by it at the beginning but has learned to deal good-naturedly with the rancor. What other player is so remembered in an opposing arena in any sport, he reasons?
“It’s very unique,” he added. “My kids grew up on Long Island hearing it. My daughter, she’s now 36 years old, she was working for First Republic Bank in Manhattan. A group of friends got to together, went to the Garden, and she texted me.
“She said, ‘Dad, I can’t believe it, they’re chanting your name.’
“I said, ‘Well, sweety that’s not unusual.’
“She says, ‘But dad, I’m at a rodeo.’”
Potvin expounds on all this in the NFTs.