Robert "Butch" Goring's 16 year career included time with Los Angeles and Boston, but he will best be remembered for helping the New York Islanders win the Stanley Cup four times in the early 1980s.
Drafted by Los Angeles in 1969, Goring was promoted from Springfield to the Kings during his first pro season. He was supposed to stay in Los Angeles the next year, but a serious case of mononucleosis forced him to miss much of the season and he spent the rest of the year in Springfield getting his health and his timing back. After that he became a steady but unspectacular regular with the Kings for nine years, averaging 30 goals a season though not getting much credit because he played on the remote West Coast.
In Los Angeles he developed into one of the most complete players in the league. An excellent penalty killer, he could also score goals with the best of them. He was good on faceoffs and was a team leader in the dressing room. His passing was first rate and he had a reputation for being one of the best shooters on breakaways. He also had an "iron man" streak, going 379 games without missing one to injury.
A long time racehorse owner, Goring was famous for a helmet that he was given when he was 12 years old and continued to wear his entire professional career. He was also known for being one of the poorer dressers in the league, a fact confirmed by a robber. On a road trip with the Kings, a burglar sneaked into his hotel room and took everything that belonged to his roommate but left all of Goring's clothes hanging in the closet untouched.
After the 1977-78 season, he was offered a huge five-year, $1-million contract by the Edmonton Oilers, then still in the WHA. Although he turned that incredible offer down, he realized he wasn't under appreciated around the league, a fact verified at the trading deadline during the 1979-80 season. Just before midnight, Islanders general manager Bill Torrey acquired Goring for Billy Harris and Dave Lewis.
The trade was sheer genius and had exactly the desired effect for the New Yorkers. That same spring Goring helped the Islanders win their first Stanley Cup, and the next year he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the outstanding player of those playoffs. In all, he won four championships in a row with the Islanders and filled just about every role imaginable on the team.
After winning the Conn Smythe, Goring was named the team's player assistant coach. But this experience gave him his first taste of coaching responsibilities, and he savored every moment.
After being traded to Boston during the 1984-85 season, he knew he was near the end of his career, but he was determined to be a coach one day. That opportunity came in 1985 when the Bruins hired him to replace Harry Sinden, who was filling in temporarily behind the bench after firing Gerry Cheevers. His dream job lasted only a year and a half. After being fired by Boston, he reported with full equipment to the Halifax Oilers, the AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers, in the hope of reviving his playing career. After just 10 uneventful games with Halifax, he retired from play for good and returned behing the bench, this time with the WHL's Spokane Chiefs.
Goring spent a little over a year with Spokane, before joining the Islanders AHL affiliate in Capital District for three seasons before heading to the IHL's Las Vegas Thunder in 1993-94. Goring's stay in Las Vegas lasted only one season, and shortly after was appointed head coach of the IHL's Denver/Utah Grizzlies. For five seasons Goring was behind the bench with the Islanders IHL affiliate before making a return to Long Island as head coach in 99-2000. Goring stint as head coach would last two seasons, before being replaced following his second season. In 2001-02, Goring was appointed head coach of the WCHL's Anchorage Aces and subsequently was replaced midseason.