With a little over a month until training camp, here we are in the dog days of summer counting down. In this post, we flashback to 1997 when Ziggy Palffy gave Islander fans reason to cheer. Originally a 1991 second round pick, the exciting Slovak electrified Nassau Coliseum with three consecutive 40-goal seasons. From ’95-96 through ’97-98, he scored 43, 48 and 45 for a three season total of 136. While a veteran Ranger squad made one final playoff run led by Gretzky and Messier, the Islanders had the premier finisher in the metropolitan area.
In the clip above, Palffy victimized the Bruins for his third career hat trick in an 8-2 home rout. The poor victim was unheralded Boston ’95 second round pick Paxton Schafer, who only had three appearances all during that season. A look at Palffy’s first two goals might explain why. One thing you’ll notice is his nose for the net. On his third goal of the second period, he beat a Bruin to the spot and buried the biscuit. Interesting to see Robert Reichel and Bryan Smolinski meshing well with Ziggy. Reichel had a solid career while Smoke was a strong No.2 pivot. Too bad the trio didn’t last.
With Palffy recently announcing his retirement from hockey, we wanted to take one more look at one of the most overlooked scorers. Ziggy Stardust averaged better than a point a game during his NHL career. He was a three-time All-Star who finished with 329 goals, 384 assists and 713 points in 684 games. A holdout eventually led to him being packaged along with Smolinski as part of an eight player player deal with the Kings that included Olli Jokinen, Josh Green, Mathieu Biron and a first round pick that turned into Taylor Pyatt on June 19, 1999. A deal that signaled a downturn for the Islander franchise under GM Mike Milbury. Not long after, he packaged Jokinen and former No.1 pick Roberto Luongo to Florida for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. Luongo went onto stardom playing in obscurity before being dealt to Vancouver while Milbury risked it all on Rick DiPietro. The rest is history.