Mike Bossy, four-time Stanley Cup champion with New York Islanders, dies at 65

Mike Bossy, one of hockey’s most prolific scorers and a star of the New York Islanders during their 1980s dynasty, has died after a battle with lung cancer. He was 65 years old.

Bossy revealed his diagnosis in October in a letter to TVA Sports.

“It is with great sadness that I must step away from your screens, for a much needed break,” Bossy wrote in French. “I intend to fight with all the determination and fire you have seen me show on the ice.”

It’s the Islanders’ third loss of this era this year after the deaths of Hockey Hall of Famer Clark Gillies in January and Jean Potvin in March.

“Although containing him was the obsession of opposing coaches and controlling him the focus of attention of opposing players, Bossy’s brilliance was unstoppable and his production relentless throughout his career,” the commissioner said on Friday. of the NHL, Gary Bettman. “He thrilled the fans like few others.”

Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Bossy revealed his diagnosis of lung cancer last October. Considered by many to be the top pure scorer, the four-time Stanley Cup winner with the Islanders scored 573 goals and 1,126 points in 752 regular season NHL games. Bossy died Friday at age 65. (Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

An Islanders spokesperson said Bossy was in his native Montreal, where the team will play Friday night against the Canadiens. Before taking to the ice on an emotional evening at the Bell Centre, Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier shared what Bossy meant to his family and his career.

“Mike Bossy was a name often mentioned in my household when my dad idolized him,” Beauvillier wrote on Instagram. “He was telling stories about how good a goalscorer was and how he would make things so easy. When I put the [Islanders] jersey, that’s the first thing my dad said to me ‘Same team as Mike.’ It’s always been an honor for me to wear the same jersey as Mike.”

WATCH l Remembering the late Mike Bossy:

Remembering the late Mike Bossy

Mike Bossy was “probably the top scorer in the history of the National Hockey League,” said Montreal columnist Dave Stubbs. Bossy will also be remembered as a family man and for his contributions to the greater hockey community. 5:06

Nine 50-goal seasons

Bossy helped the Islanders win the Stanley Cup four years in a row from 1980 to 1983, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1982. He scored the Cup-winning goal in 1982 and 1983 – one of the only two players to do so in back-to-back seasons.

“It’s certainly something I’m proud of,” Bossy said in 1983 after scoring the second Cup-winning goal.

Bossy was a first-round pick in 1977 and played his entire 10-year NHL career with New York. He won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, won the Lady Byng Trophy for courteous conduct three times and led the league in goals twice.

“The New York Islanders organization mourns the loss of Mike Bossy, an icon not only on Long Island but throughout the 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 consecutive Stanley Cup championships, shaping the history of this franchise forever. “

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

Gretzky’s Oilers met Bossy’s Islanders in two Stanley Cup Finals, with the Edmonton team ending the Long Island dynasty in 1984 after being swept away by the Islands a year earlier.

The two all-time greats were teammates for Team Canada twice in the 1981 and 1984 Canada Cup tournaments. Canada won the 1984 event thanks to Bossy’s goal in overtime against the Soviet Union in the semi-finals.

“It was an honor to play with you. We will miss you,” Gretzky said in a post on Twitter.

Bossy was only the second player to score 50 goals in 50 games – a feat which has only been matched three times since. He remains the all-time leader in goals per game in the regular season at 0.762, and only two players have recorded more hat-tricks than Bossy’s 39.

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

Member of the Island Hockey Dynasty

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

Bossy was an eight-time All-Star and finished 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 currently ranks 22nd on the career goals list. In the playoffs, Bossy had 160 points in 129 games.

NY Islanders coach Al Arbor, left, talks to his top scorer Bossy during a practice break in Denver, Colorado in this file photo taken March 17, 1982. (Ed Andrieski/Associated Press)

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

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

His daughter Tanya Bossy said her father “is no longer in pain”.

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

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

“I once asked Mike Bossy why he scored so many goals. Answer: ‘I rarely missed the net.’ A real natural,” Hockey Hall of Famer Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympic gold medalist for Canada, said in a post on Twitter Friday.

Before joining the NHL, Bossy played five seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Laval National. He collected 602 points in 298 games in the QMJHL.

Canadiens interim head coach Martin St. Louis said Friday that Bossy is very involved in the Montreal hockey community.

“I was born in 1975 and grew up in Laval, so I had an idea of ​​the impact Mike had as a player. Mike was not only amazing on the ice, but also off it,” St. Louis said. “He came to present the trophies to the young people at the end of each season. I have photos with Mike when I was very young. He gave his time to come and encourage the young people, it was something special.

Off the ice, Bossy was a leader in the movement to reduce fights in hockey. In 1979 he told the media he was never going to fight on the ice.

He wrote about his anti-fight stance in a 2017 article for The Players Tribune titled “Letter to my younger self.”

“You have to be ready for the names you’re going to get. You have to be ready for the way people are going to look at you for making a statement like that in 1979. For a guy who’s already unfairly labeled ‘shy’ , that’s going to be a big problem. Some people in the hockey world just won’t accept that someone who doesn’t fight can ever be a winner,” Bossy wrote.

In the same article, Bossy also told the 14-year-old himself that in the future, hockey players will take better care of their health.

“Guys no longer smoke cigarettes and drink black coffee at intermission. They drink smoothies and ‘stretch’,” he wrote.

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