Mike Bossy, one of the most prolific goal scorers in hockey history, dies at age 65
Mike Bossy, one of the most prolific goal scorers in hockey history and a major member of the New York Islanders’ dynasty in the 1980s, has died. He was 65 years old at the time.
Bossy died Thursday night, according to the Islanders and TVA Sports, a French-language network in Canada where he worked as a hockey analyst. According to a team representative, Bossy is in his hometown of Montreal.
In an October letter to TVA Sports, Bossy revealed that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
“It is with great sadness that I must take a necessary break from your screens,” Bossy wrote in French. “I aim to fight with the same tenacity and zeal that you’ve seen me display on the ice.”
After fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Clark Gillies died in January and Jean Potvin died in March, it’s the third death from that era this year.
In a statement, Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said, “The New York Islanders organization mourns the death of Mike Bossy, an icon not only on Long Island but across the hockey world.” “He had an unquenchable desire to be the best every time he walked onto the ice. He and his colleagues helped the team win four straight Stanley Cup championships, forever changing the franchise’s history.”
Tanya Bossy, her father’s daughter, stated he was “no longer in pain.”
“My father loved hockey, yes, but first and foremost, he loved life,” she stated on behalf of the Bossy family in a statement in French. “He clung on till the finish of his journey. More than everything, he desired to live.”
From 1980 to 1983, Bossy was a key member of the Islanders’ Stanley Cup winning teams, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1982. In 1982 and 1983, he scored the Cup-winning goals.
“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,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “… 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 thrilled fans like few others.”
Bossy was a first-round pick in 1977 and spent his entire 10-year NHL career with the New York Rangers. He was named Calder Trophy rookie of the year three times, received the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly behaviour three times, and twice led the league in goals.
Bossy had a streak of scoring 50 goals or more in each of his first nine seasons, which was the longest in the league. He and Wayne Gretzky are the only players in NHL history to have nine seasons with 50 goals.
Bossy is one of only five players to score 50 goals in 50 games, and only two players have more hat tricks than Bossy’s 39. He is also the all-time leader in goals per game in the regular season (0.762).
In terms of points per game, he’s third, and he’s seventh all-time in scoring. All of this happened during the regular season, when Bossy put up some of the best numbers in the game’s history. Bossy was even more crucial in the playoffs. He is the only player in NHL history to win four games in a single playoff series, and he has three playoff OT goals.
Before Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers took over, the Islanders, led by Bossy, Gillies, Bryan Trottier, and defenceman Denis Potvin, supplanted Scotty Bowman’s 1970s Montreal Canadiens as the NHL’s next dynasty.
In 752 regular-season games, Bossy was an eight-time All-Star with 573 goals and 553 assists for 1,126 points. He was the fastest player to reach 100 goals, and he currently ranks 22nd all-time in goals. Bossy scored 160 points in 129 games during the playoffs.
His career was cut short in 1987 due to back and knee ailments. He scored 38 goals but was only able to play in 63 games, preventing him from returning for an 11th season.
Bossy was voted one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players in 2017 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991. His No. 22 was retired by the Islanders in March 1992.
Bossy spent five seasons with the Laval National of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before making it to the NHL. In 298 QMJHL games, he scored 602 points. In 1981 and 1984, Bossy also represented Canada at the Canada Cup, long before NHL players began competing in the Winter Olympics.