Mike Bossy

Michael Dean Bossy (born January 22, 1957) is a former Canadian 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-team 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

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 another forward. Bossy was known as a scorer who could not check, while the other forward could check but was not very good offensively. Coach Al Arbour persuaded Torrey to pick Bossy, figuring it was easier to teach a scorer how to check.[1] Bossy was placed on a line with Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies, a combination that would come to be known as The Trio Grande,[2][3] or 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, sniper Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders became only the second player to score 50 goals in the first 50 games of the season. This was hyped by the hockey press as Bossy 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 goals and Bossy 48, with Simmer getting a hat trick that brought 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 fromTiger 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 (1980–1983) compared to the Montreal Canadiens(1976–1979) or Edmonton Oilers (1984–1990). 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.” [4] 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. 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. Gretzky afterwards could not be reached for comment. [5]

The dominant scoring star of the late 1970s was Guy Lafleur but his skills waned in the 1980s. In 1982, Bossy set a scoring record for right-wingers with 147 points while also winning the Stanley Cupand the 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 Lafleur, Trottier, and Gretzky.[2][6] 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.[7]

The Islanders made a fifth consecutive Stanley Cup final in 1984 (The “Drive for Five”) but they were outmatched by the Oilers who defeated them 4 games to 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.[8]

Afterwards, the Islanders would slowly decline, while injuries would take their toll on Bossy’s back. He was limited to 63 games in the 1986–87 season but he 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.[9]

The Islanders retired Bossy’s number 22 on March 3, 1992, the second Islander afforded that honor after longtime teammate Denis Potvin.[9]

[edit]Career after hockey

Bossy played his last NHL game in 1987, at the age of 30, 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 since then, saying “I contacted 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. They never called back”. Bossy also had hopes when former teammate Bryan Trottier was hired as New York Rangerscoach in 2002, saying “I also thought I’d get a call. The reason was, 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.” [4]

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. [4]

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]


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 (modern era): .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 has 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). And of course, 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: 19th all-time with 573, achieved in about 200 fewer games than anyone else in the top 50
  • 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: seventeenth 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-62, Newsy Lalonde-69, Cy Denneny-86, Babe Dye-88, 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 Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux have since surpassed these marks. 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 jersey 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.

Posted on: NHL Snipers

One Response to “Mike Bossy”

  1. The Best goal scorer of all time!

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