Mike Bossy

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Mike Bossy
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1991
Born (1957-01-22) January 22, 1957 (age 57)
Montreal, QC, CAN
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Right
Played for New York Islanders
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 15th overall, 1977
New York Islanders
WHA Draft 44th overall, 1977
Indianapolis Racers
Playing career 1977–1987

Michael Dean Bossy or, according to some sources, Michael Jean Bossy[1] (born January 22, 1957) is a Canadian former ice hockey player who played for the New York Islanders for his entire career and was a crucial part of their four-year reign as Stanley Cup champions in the early 1980s. Among many other remarkable achievements, he was the only player in NHL history to score consecutive Stanley Cup winning goals, in 1982 and 1983, the only player to record four game-winning goals in one series (1983 Conference Final), is the NHL's all-time leader in average goals scored per regular season game, and is one of only five players to score 50 goals in 50 games.

Playing career[edit]

He started his junior career with Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at the age of 15. Despite scoring 309 goals in four seasons, Bossy was considered a timid player by NHL scouts.

In the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft, he was passed over by twelve teams, with the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs ignoring him twice. However, the New York Islanders made him their first choice, 15th overall. General manager Bill Torrey was torn at first between taking Bossy and Dwight Foster. Bossy was known as a scorer who could not check, while Foster could check but was inferior offensively. Coach Al Arbour persuaded Torrey to pick Bossy, figuring it was easier to teach a scorer how to check.[2] Bossy was placed on a line with Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies, a combination that would come to be known as The Trio Grande,[3][4] replacing Billy Harris on a line that had been called the "LILCO line" (standing for "Long Island Lighting Company", since their prolific scoring kept the goal lamp lit).

Bossy boldly predicted that he would score 50 goals in his rookie season. He made good on his promise, scoring a then-record 53 goals as a rookie in the 1977–78 season, won the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year, and was named a Second Team All-Star.

Many thought it would be impossible to duplicate Maurice Richard's 50 in 50, set thirty-six years earlier. Then, in the 1980–81 season, Bossy became only the second player to score 50 goals in 50 games. This was hyped by the hockey press as he was in an unofficial competition with Charlie Simmer of the Los Angeles Kings to see who could first accomplish the 50 in 50 milestone since Richard. Both players were involved in their 50th game, with Simmer at 46 and Bossy at 48, with Simmer getting a hat trick to bring his total to 49 goals in 50. Making it particularly dramatic, Bossy was scoreless for much of the game but found the net twice within the last five minutes of his 50th game. Richard was on hand to congratulate Bossy for this achievement. Bossy finished the season with 68 goals in 79 games.

Bossy was known for being able to score goals in remarkable fashion, the most incredible, perhaps, in the 1982 Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks when, up-ended by a check from Tiger Williams and flying several feet in the air, parallel to the ice, Bossy nonetheless managed to hook the puck with his stick and score. Bossy was also noted for his clean play, never resorting to fighting (and being one of the first players to speak out against violence on the ice), and winning the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play three times: 1983, 1984, and 1986.

Bossy has harbored some animosity towards Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers, stating that the Islanders got little recognition for their dynasty (1980–83) compared to the Canadiens (1976–79) or Oilers (1984–90). Bossy complained "I do a lot of promoting for how good [the Islanders] were...We never got one millionth of the recognition we should. We had a very low-key organization. They didn't want guys doing too much, because they thought the hockey might suffer. People don't talk about us in the first mention of great teams." [5] During Gretzky's interview with the New York Post in 1993, he praised Bossy as the best right-winger ever to play, saying that their scoring totals would have been even higher if the two had played together. (They nearly did; in the 1977 WHA Amateur Draft, Bossy was selected by the Indianapolis Racers, who one year later would become Gretzky's first pro team.) Bossy's response in the Post was not complimentary, as he pointed out that their playing styles were different, and also said that Trottier was the best center in hockey. [6] Gretzky did not comment on that at the time; however, years later in his autobiography he reiterated that Bossy was a great player, but "I sure wouldn't want to ride in a cab with that guy."

In 1982, Bossy set a scoring record for right-wingers with 147 points while also winning the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy. However, far more attention was given to Gretzky who not only won the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy, but also shattered scoring records with an unheard of 212 points and 92 goals. Bossy aspired to be the best player of his era but fell short, as the Hart and Art Ross Trophies were two of the awards that eluded Bossy during his career, going to Guy Lafleur, Trottier, and Gretzky.[3][7] Although the Islanders swept the Oilers in the 1983 final to win a fourth consecutive championship, Gretzky and his Oilers still received the most attention.[8]

The Islanders made a fifth straight Stanley Cup final in 1984 but they were outmatched by the Oilers who defeated them 4–1. Bossy, who had scored 8 goals after the first three rounds of the playoffs (and 17 goals in the past three consecutive post-seasons), was silenced completely in the finals series.[9]

Afterwards, the Islanders slowly declined, while injuries took their toll on Bossy's back. He was limited to 63 games in the 1986–87 season but still managed to score 38 goals. He decided to take the next season off to rest his back, but officially retired after the 1987-88 season. During his season off, Bill Torrey had offered Bossy to be traded to the Montreal Canadiens, so he could be closer to home, but Bossy declined. Having played his last game at the young age of 30, he scored 573 goals and 553 assists in 752 NHL games, all with the Islanders.[10]

The Islanders retired Bossy's #22 on March 3, 1992, the second Islander afforded that honor after longtime teammate Denis Potvin.[10]

Career after hockey[edit]

Bossy played his last NHL game in 1987, at the age of 30, and after taking a year off he officially retired in 1988. He worked as a television broadcaster for the Quebec Nordiques until 1990. He afterwards recalled not being able to get a job with an NHL organization for over a decade and a half. "I called the Canadiens at least two or three times [in the mid-1990s] because I thought I could help the organization in some way, not necessarily as a coach but in some role that could be developed," Bossy told Sports Illustrated in 2005. They never called back." When his former linemate, Bryan Trottier, was hired as New York Rangers coach in 2002, Bossy was certain Trottier would hire him on in some capacity. "The reason was," Bossy said, "I remember having umpteen conversations with Bryan, having roomed with him for 10 years, that went, 'One of these days, Mike, we're going to take a team and do it our way.' I've found out since from Bryan [who was fired in his first season] that he wasn't going to be given that chance." [5]

Bossy then did a three-year stint as part of the morning zoo crew on CKOI, a French-language radio station in Montreal. He started out doing promotional work for Humpty Dumpty in the late 1990s, a snack-food manufacturer based in eastern Canada. He became the Quebec sales director of the company in 2003. [5]

In 2005, Bossy made a cameo appearance on the fourth sequel to the French Canadian classic movie Les Boys, playing himself.

On October 13, 2006, the Islanders held a news conference to announce that Bossy had rejoined the organization, working with the front office in sponsor and fan development. [1]

Accomplishments[edit]

As of 2011, Bossy holds or shares the following NHL records:

  • Most consecutive 50+ goal seasons: 9
  • Most 50+ goal seasons (not necessarily consecutive): 9 (tied with Wayne Gretzky)
  • Most 60+ goal seasons (not necessarily consecutive): 5 (tied with Wayne Gretzky)
  • Highest goals-per-game average, career (minimum 200 total goals): .762 goals per game
  • Most power-play goals, one playoff season: 9 (tied with Cam Neely)
  • Most consecutive hat tricks: 3 (tied with Joe Malone, who accomplished this twice)

Bossy won the following major NHL awards:

He also led the league in goals twice, in 1978-79 and 1980-81 (both predate the Rocket Richard Trophy). He was a part of all four Stanley Cup-winning New York Islanders teams.

Here is a selected list of other official NHL record categories where Bossy was once the record-holder and/or is ranked very highly:

  • Goals, career: 20th all-time with 573; only Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky reached 500 in fewer games
  • Goals, regular season and playoffs combined, one season: seventh all-time with 85 (was a record at the time it was achieved)
  • Assists by a right wing, one season: second all-time with 83 (was a record at the time it was achieved)
  • Points by a right wing, one season: second all time with 147 (was a record at the time it was achieved)
  • Goals by a rookie, one season: second all-time with 53 (was a record at the time it was achieved)
  • 100+ point seasons, career: fourth all-time with 7
  • Goals per game, playoffs, career: Second all-time with .659
  • Goals per game, regular season and playoffs combined, career: Second all-time with .747
  • Points per game, career: third all-time
  • Assists per game, career: eighteenth all-time
  • Shooting percentage, career: fourth all-time with 21.18%
  • Hat tricks, one season: tied for third all-time with 9 (was a record at the time it was achieved)
  • Hat tricks, career: third all-time with 39

Bossy has several significant career achievements that are not official NHL records. He reached 100 career goals faster (in terms of career games played) than any other player in modern NHL history, requiring just 129 games to accomplish this. (Joe Malone-61, Newsy Lalonde-69, Cy Denneny-86, Babe Dye-86, Reg Noble-109 & Frank Nighbor-125 had previously scored 100 goals in fewer games.) He was also the fastest to various other milestones such as 200 (255 GP), 300 (381 GP), 400 (506 GP) and 500 (647 GP) goals at the time he achieved them, but currently ranks behind Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux in most of these categories. In the 1980–81 NHL season, he scored 50 goals in the first 50 games of the season - only the second player, and the first in almost 40 years, to achieve this. He remains one of only five players who can claim to have accomplished this. He is the only player to score 17 goals in three consecutive playoff years.

Bossy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991. His #22 sweater was retired by the Islanders on March 3, 1992. In 1998, he was ranked number 20 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1972–73 Laval National QMJHL 4 1 2 3 0  —  —  —  —  —
1973–74 Laval National QMJHL 68 70 48 118 45 11 6 16 22 2
1974–75 Laval National QMJHL 67 84 65 149 42 16 18 20 38 2
1975–76 Laval National QMJHL 64 79 57 136 25  —  —  —  —  —
1976–77 Laval National QMJHL 61 75 51 126 12 7 5 5 10 12
1977–78 New York Islanders NHL 73 53 38 91 6 7 2 2 4 2
1978–79 New York Islanders NHL 80 69 57 126 25 10 6 2 8 2
1979–80 New York Islanders* NHL 75 51 41 92 12 16 10 13 23 8
1980–81 New York Islanders* NHL 79 68 51 119 32 18 17 18 35 4
1981–82 New York Islanders* NHL 80 64 83 147 22 19 17 10 27 0
1982–83 New York Islanders* NHL 79 60 58 118 20 19 17 9 26 10
1983–84 New York Islanders NHL 67 51 67 118 8 21 8 10 18 4
1984–85 New York Islanders NHL 76 58 59 117 38 10 5 6 11 4
1985–86 New York Islanders NHL 80 61 62 123 14 3 1 2 3 4
1986–87 New York Islanders NHL 63 38 37 75 33 6 2 3 5 2
NHL totals 752 573 553 1,126 210 129 85 75 160 38

* Stanley Cup champion

International[edit]

Year Team Event GP G A Pts PIM
1981 Canada CC 7 8 3 11 2
1984 Canada CC 8 5 4 9 2
International totals 15 13 7 19 4

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vecsey, George (2006-12-07). "Islanders’ Glory Days Seem Long, Long Ago". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-24. 
  2. ^ Hunter, Douglas (1997). Champions: The Illustrated History of Hockey's Greatest Dynasties. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 1-57243-213-6. 
  3. ^ a b "Who Was Better? Guy Lafleur vs. Mike Bossy". Greatest Hockey Legends.com. 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  4. ^ Keese, Parton (1977-12-06). "Islanders' Hot Trio Grande — Islanders' Trio Grande — Gillies, Trottier, Bossy — Article — NYTimes.com". Select.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  5. ^ a b c "SI.com — Magazine — Where Are They Now? Mike Bossy — Thursday July 7, 2005 12:11PM". Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. 2005-07-07. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  6. ^ "New York Islanders Legends: Bryan Trottier". Nyislanderslegends.blogspot.com. 2011-03-26. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  7. ^ "Biography". Legends of Hockey - Mike Bossy. Hockey Hall Of Fame. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  8. ^ E.M. Swift (1983-05-30). "With their sweep of the Oilers, the Islanders lifted - 05.30.83 - SI Vault". Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  9. ^ Jack Falla (1984-05-28). "An era ended as Edmonton's Oilers wrested the Stanley Cup - 05.28.84 - SI Vault". Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  10. ^ a b "Bossy's Desire to Play Defeated by Pain". New York Times. 1988-10-25. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 

External links[edit]

Achievements
Preceded by
Alex McKendry
New York Islanders first round draft pick
1977
Succeeded by
Steve Tambellini
Preceded by
Guy Lafleur
Danny Gare, Charlie Simmer, Blaine Stoughton
NHL Goal Leader
1979
1981
Succeeded by
Danny Gare, Charlie Simmer, Blaine Stoughton
Wayne Gretzky
Awards
Preceded by
Willi Plett
Winner of the Calder Trophy
1978
Succeeded by
Bobby Smith
Preceded by
Butch Goring
Winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy
1982
Succeeded by
Billy Smith
Preceded by
Rick Middleton
Jari Kurri
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
1983, 1984
1986
Succeeded by
Jari Kurri
Joe Mullen