Hockey Hall of Fame forward Mike Bossy died at the age of 65 on Friday after a long battle with lung cancer per Sportsnet. Bossy smoked regularly in his early years.
Bossy scored 573 goals in 752 NHL games and helped lead the New York Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1979 to 1983. Bossy is arguably the purest and most proficient goal-scorer of all time.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a long statement mourning Bossy’s death.
The National Hockey League mourns the passing of Mike Bossy, the dynamic winger whose goal-scoring prowess during a remarkable 10-year career ranks, by almost any measure, as one of the greatest in NHL history and propelled the New York Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups.
Bossy scored 573 goals in 752 games – a .76 goals-per-game average that is the highest in the League’s history. He is the only player ever to record nine straight 50-goal seasons and his five 60-goal seasons are matched only by Wayne Gretzky. One of only eight players in NHL history to have scored 50 goals in his first 50 games of a season, he was similarly dominating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, during which he scored 85 goals in 129 games.
Though containing him was the obsession of opposing coaches and checking him the focus of opposing players, Bossy’s brilliance was unstoppable and his production relentless throughout his entire career. He scored 53 goals and won the Calder Trophy in 1977-78, and his goal-scoring never waned until the injuries that prematurely ended his career limited him to 38 goals in his final season of 1986-87 – the only season he didn’t eclipse 50 goals. Voted a First Team All-Star five times, he won the Lady Byng Trophy three times and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1982. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 and named one of the NHL’s Top 100 Players in 2017, Bossy was one of our game’s all-time greats.
Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Lucie, their daughters, Josiane and Tanya, his former Islanders teammates and his countless fans on Long Island, the New York metropolitan area and throughout the hockey world. He thrilled fans like few others.
The Islanders said in a statement:
The New York Islanders organization mourns the loss of Mike Bossy, an icon not only on Long Island but across the entire hockey world,” Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello said. “His drive to be the best every time he stepped on the ice was second to none. Along with his teammates, he helped win four straight Stanley Cup championships, shaping the history of this franchise forever. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to the entire Bossy family and all those who grieve this tragic loss.
Bossy, who was nearly an unstoppable scorer with Laval of the QMJHL, fell to the 15th overall pick in the 1977 NHL Draft due to concerns by general managers that he would not be able to continue his offensive prowess in a more hard-hitting and defensive first league like the NHL. The Islanders drafted Bossy and paired him with Brian Trottier and Clark Gillies on the Trio Grande line. All three players would go on to be Hockey Hall of Famers.
“When I started in the National Hockey League, I wanted to be the best player I could possibly be and I’ve worked in that vein ever since I started,” Bossy said then via Sportsnet.
Bossy went on to have nine straight 50-goal seasons to start his career – a record no other player matched including Wayne Gretzky (8x). Bossy and Gretzky are the only players to record nine 50-goal seasons total, a record Alex Ovechkin is trying to match this season if he can score four more goals in the next eight games.
“I always say he’s going to score as many goals as he wants to for a grand total,” Bossy said of Ovechkin to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti in 2019. “Whether he gets to 50 next year, there’s not only talent, but a lot of luck that’s involved also and you have to stay healthy.”
Alex Ovechkin shares some thoughts on the legendary career of Mike Bossy pic.twitter.com/Leuw0JwRX4
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 15, 2022
Crippled by back injuries, Bossy played his final season in 1986-87. The legendary winger scored 38 goals in 63 games but needed Bryan Trottier to help him lace up his skates before games.
When asked after retirement how many total goals he might have scored, Bossy said, “It’s just too hypothetical. There’s no sense putting a number on something that’s never going to happen.”
Headline photo: NHL PR
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