Where Are They Now? John Tonelli

This week we look back at a key member of the Islanders team who won 4 straight Stanley Cups in the 1980’s and that is John Tonelli. I would like to thank one of our Twitter followers @shooskie for suggesting this feature.

John Tonelli was the 33rd overall pick in the 1977 NHL Draft chosen by the Islanders at the age of 20. He played in Ontario Hockey Association for the Toronto Marlboros and the Houston Aeros in the World Hockey Association before beginning his career with the Islanders. His career on Long Island began in the 1978-79 season through the middle of the 1985-86 season and his time as an Islander was memorable. Tonelli was part of all 4 Stanley Cup championship teams and was known as gritty forward with a never-say-die attitude.

Tonelli, who was affectionately dubbed "The Greasy Jet" by his teammates, is remembered for scoring various "clutch goals" in the Islanders' run of four straight Stanley Cups and five straight appearances in the finals. During the 1981-82 playoffs facing elimination against the Pittsburgh Penguins, they were trailing 3-1 in the deciding game where Tonelli assisted on a goal that closed the champions within one goal, and tied the game himself with 2:21 to play that got the game to overtime. John Tonelli scored in overtime to win the game for the Islanders that extended the reign as Stanley Cup champions. (Photo Credit: ESPN)

He was known for being virtually unbeatable in digging out the puck in the corners of the rink while also being known for his excellent shot, a good passer, and had excellent timing both offensively and defensively. During his eight seasons with the Islanders, coach Al Arbour used Tonelli on the famed "Banana Line" with Wayne Merrick and Bob Nystrom, on the top line with Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy, and later he played flank for Brent Sutter and Patrick Flatley.

In 1984 he also played for Canada in the Canada Cup and his team won the championship and Tonelli was named the tournament's best player, winning the 1984 Canada Cup MVP award.He then rejoined the Islanders and had his best season ever, scoring 42 goals and 100 points in 1984-1985 before being traded to the Calgary Flames during the 85-86 season and he helped the Flames reach the Stanley Cup finals for the first time. He also played for the Los Angeles Kings, Chigago Blackhawks, and Quebec Nordiques. Tonelli finished his NHL career playing in 1028 games with 325 goals and 511 assists for 836 points.

Today you can find John Tonelli residing in New York City working for Fidelity National Financial, a Fortune 500 company that is the nation's largest provider of commercial and residential mortgage and diversified services. He also has a hockey arena in Milton, Ontario named in his honor known as The John Tonelli Arena. (Photo Credit- www.milton.ca)

My Take

John Tonelli is the type of player I love to have as they just go out and make plays. He might of not been one of the big names from the championship teams but when a big play was needed that is when John would be there in a major spot of the game to make a difference in the outcome of a game for the Islanders. In comparison to the way Tonelli played the game I can see current Islander Casey Cizikas continue to develop his game and eventually become the playmaker at key moments in games that Tonelli was that made the Islanders successful winning all those Stanley Cups. Next week we will profile Ed Westfall.

-John Santamaria

Follow me @JSantamariaNY and follow us @TCLIsles