Salute to a power skating pioneer

Barbara Williams helped see the Islanders to four Stanley Cup championships. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The battle for the Stanley Cup begins tonight, which got us thinking about an MVP from years gone by. In 1977, Barbara Williams, a former figure skater, became the first female skating coach in the NHL when she was named the New York Islanders’ power skating instructor. Her specialty was making players’ stride more powerful and fluid. Under her tutelage, the team went on to win four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980-83. Since, she has worked with the New Jersey Devils, four NHL farm teams and more than 200 NHL players privately. She now devotes her time to grassroots efforts, training children instead of the pros. Through her decades of influence, Williams has been recommended for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but she is still waiting for the call. As for the Islanders, they’re back in the playoffs for the first time since 2007, and they’ll take on Pittsburgh in a best-of-seven first-round series starting Wednesday.

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