Legendary New York Islander sniper Mike Bossy passed away in Montréal from lung cancer late last week. Bossy was the fifth son among ten children born to an English mother and a Ukrainian father in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville neighbourhood of Montréal. His father maintained a backyard ice rink at their apartment building but curiously enough his family consisted of Detroit Red Wings fans.
At the age of twelve he broke his kneecap while competing in the long jump at school which resulted in his having chronic knee problems later in his hockey career.
He nonetheless broke in with the Major Junior Laval National team at the tender age of fifteen at the end of the 1973 season scoring one goal in the four games he played. He went on to play four full seasons with Laval and scored 309 goals which still stands as a Major Junior record. His 532 total points also remains a record for the QMJHL.
But he was then passed over in the 1977 NHL draft by the Montréal Canadiens and twice(!) by the New York Rangers because he was perceived to lack toughness and was deficient when it came to checking. He was finally selected by the New York Islanders with the fifteenth pick overall.
Bossy told Islander GM Bill Torrey that he would score fifty goals in his rookie season. He ended the season with 53. He was awarded the Calder Cup as the NHL's rookie of the year for his efforts.
Bossy then set a record for being the fastest to reach the one hundred goal mark in modern NHL history by doing it in 129 games. He scored over fifty goals in each of his first nine seasons a streak no other player has matched. He led the league in goals in both 1978–79 and 1980–81. He went on to score 573 goals in his ten regular seasons with the Islanders. His lifetime mark of 0.762 goals per NHL regular season game remains the best ever. His goal scoring success was due to an incredibly quick release and just making sure his shots were on net. Said Bossy "About 90 percent of the time I don't aim; I just try to get my shot away as quick as possible as a surprise element. I just try to get the puck on net. I rarely miss the net." So he made the most of his physical skills with intelligence.
Bossy was voted to the first all star team five times and the second three times.
In the playoffs he was perhaps even more devastating. He played a key part in the Islanders' four consecutive Stanley Cups dynasty from 1980 to 1983. He scored Stanley Cup winning goals in 1982 in which he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP and then again in 1983. He scored four game winning goals in one playoff series in 1983! He ended up scoring 85 goals in 129 career playoff games.
Persistent back pain due to two damaged discs in his back "slowed" his production to 38 goals and 37 assists in 63 games in 1976-77. The discs couldn't be repaired by surgery and more than a year of therapy failed to restore his back to playing condition. He was therefore forced to retire after only ten stellar seasons.
Bossy was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame shortly thereafter in 1991.
He's survived by two daughters and his wife née Lucie Creamer. He'd met her when he was fourteen and she was working in an arena snack bar where he was playing. Arena snack bars are of course among the coolest places in town.