Mike Bossy, Islanders Great, 4-time cup champion, dies aged 65

Mike Bossy flopped onto the ice as the puck went in, then scrambled to his feet and jumped in the air to celebrate another goal. It was a familiar sight as the New York Islanders were en route to their third of four straight Stanley Cup titles.

Bossy danced on his skates the same way after scoring 50 goals in 50 games, but so often his reaction was more muted simply because he scored so much and so often, more than almost anyone else in the NHL’s long history.

The Hockey Hall of Famer died Thursday night of lung cancer. Bossy was 65.

“Despite the obsession of opposing coaches to contain him and make him the focus of opposing players, Bossy’s brilliance has been unstoppable and his performance throughout his career relentless,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday. “He thrilled the fans like few others.”

An Islanders spokesman said Bossy is in his hometown of Montreal where the team will play the Canadiens on Friday night. Before hitting the ice on an emotional night at the Bell Centre, Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier shared what Bossy meant to his family and career.

“Mike Bossy was a name that came up a lot in my family growing up as my dad idolized him,” Beauvillier wrote on Instagram. “He shared stories about how good a goalscorer he was and how he would make it so easy. When I first put the (Islanders) jersey on…the first thing my dad said to me was ‘same team as Mike’. It’s always been an honor to wear the same jersey as Mike.”

Bossy helped the Islanders win the Stanley Cup four straight years from 1980 to 1983 and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1982-back seasons.

“I’m certainly proud of that,” Bossy said in 1983 after scoring the second cup-winning goal.

Bossy was selected in the first round in 1977 and played his entire 10-year NHL career for New York. He won the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year, received the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly behavior three times, and led the league in goals twice.

Bossy has scored 50 or more goals in each of his first nine seasons – the league’s longest streak. He and Wayne Gretzky are the only players in hockey history with nine 50-goal seasons.

“The New York Islanders organization mourns the passing of Mike Bossy, an icon not just on Long Island but throughout the hockey world,” said Lou Lamoriello, Islanders president and general manager. “His drive to be the best every time he stepped onto the ice was second to none. Along with his teammates, he helped win four straight Stanley Cup championships and forever marked the history of this franchise.”

Bossy became just the second player to score 50 goals in 50 games – a feat that has only been matched three times since. He remains the all-time all-time leader with .762 goals per game in the regular season, and only two players have recorded more hat-tricks than Bossy’s 39.

He ranks third in points per game and seventh in all-time goalscoring list. That’s all in the regular season, when Bossy put up some of the best numbers in the game’s history. In the playoffs, Bossy was even more clutch. He is the only player with four wins in the same playoff series and scored three goals in playoff overtime.

Led by Bossy, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier and defenseman Denis Potvin, the Islanders succeeded Scotty Bowmans Montreal Canadiens as the NHL’s next dynasty of the 1970s before Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers took over the sport.

Bossy was an eight-time All-Star, finishing with 573 goals and 553 assists for 1,126 points in 752 regular-season games. He was the fastest player to reach 100 goals and is currently ranked 22nd on the list of career goals. In the playoffs, Bossy had 160 points in 129 games.

Back and knee injuries eventually ended his career in 1987. He was limited to 38 goals in 63 games and failed to return for an 11th season.

Bossy announced his cancer diagnosis in a letter to TVA Sports in October. He wrote in French: “It is with great sadness that I must step away from your screens for a necessary break. I intend to fight with all the determination and fire you showed me on the ice.”

It is the third loss of this Islanders era this year. Fellow Hall of Famer Gillies died in January and Jean Potvin died in March.

Daughter Tanya Bossy said her father was “no more pain”.

“My father loved ice hockey, sure, but most of all he loved life,” she said in a statement in French on behalf of the Bossy family. “He persevered to the end of his journey. He wanted to live more than anything.”

Bossy was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991 and was named one of the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players in 2017.

Before reaching the NHL, Bossy played five seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Laval National. He had 602 points in 298 QMJHL games. Bossy also represented Canada at the Canada Cup in 1981 and 1984, well before NHL players began competing in the Winter Olympics.

Funeral arrangements were still pending.


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