With seventeen consecutive playoff series victories and four consecutive Stanley Cup championships in the early 1980s, the New York Islanders Stanley Cup dynasty ranks as one of the greatest hockey teams of all time.
While most people think of superstars like Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier and Billy Smith, the stereotypical Islander was that of a hard working battler like Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies, John Tonelli, Brent and Duane Sutter, Bob Bourne, Butch Goring and Dave Langevin.
But the Isles dynasty never got enough credit for importing European talent, particularly from Sweden. Tomas Jonsson was a real nice find on defense. Stefan Persson and Anders Kallur were two other underrated contributors.
Mats Hallin was brought in the 1982-83 season. He was actually drafted by Washington back in 1978 but the Capitals allowed him to become a free agent. The Islanders moved in to sign the six-foot-two, 200 pounder capable of playing either win.
He quietly played half a season and scored a goal in the playoffs to help the Islanders win what proved to be their last Cup victory of that dynasty.
It was hoped that Hallin would be part of the new generation that would keep the post-dynasty Islanders in contention. Pat Lafontaine, Pat Flatley and Kelly Hrudey were among the others they had hoped would work out.
Unfortunately for Hallin, bad breaks cost him. Bad breaks as in a right knee injury that cost him half of the 1983-84 season, and shoulder surgery that cost him half 1984-85 season plus some of the next.
The Islanders gave Hallin away to the Minnesota North Stars for next to nothing in the summer of 1985. He would play another 44 games with the Stars before returning to Europe.
For all the injuries, Hallin was never one to back down from the physical game. One night he got into a rare fight with Montreal's Kent Carlson. Carlson actually split Hallin's helmet into two with one punch. He also split his hand and was out for six weeks. Hallin lived to tell the story.
Hallin continued playing in Sweden until 1992. He later became a coach and scout. He coached his son Per Hallin alongside Daniel and Henrik Sedin in the 1999 World Junior championships.