Mike Bossy

Daniel Collins

Written by: Daniel Collins


Read Time: 3 minutes

Mike Bossy, born Michael Dean Bossy in Saint-Alphonse Montreal was a National Hockey League player with the New York Islanders. He made his name as a prolific scorer who torched defenses, broke tons of scoring records, and won four Stanleys in a career that spanned 10 years. A one franchise man, Bossy was unfortunate to have his career ended by a serious back injury. Still, his legacy as one of the most prolific forwards to have played in the NHL remains.

Junior Years

Bossy attended the Laval Catholic High School for his studies and played for a Montreal minor ice hockey team in the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament as a youth. At the age of 15, he was called up by Laval National to play for them in the QMJHL. In his five seasons at Laval, he broke the QMJHL point records (532 points) and scored 309 goals. Still, most NHL teams were unconvinced of his ability to contribute defensively and passed him up during the NHL amateur draft of 1977. The New York Islanders selected him with the 15th overall that year.

NHL Career Highlights

Mike Bossy was not an automatic selection for the Islanders. They had toyed with the idea of bringing in Dwight Foster the 16th pick in 1979, citing Bossy’s defensive weaknesses. However, the Islander coach, Al Arbour, convinced the general manager to select Bossy. The Bossy selection was a masterstroke and unknown to them, they had set up the franchise for success with his drafting.

Bossy fit seamlessly into the Islander team, partnering Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies in the attack. This front three, The Trio Grande, tormented defenses and brought immense success to the Islanders in their first season together. In his first season, Bossy won the Calder Memorial Rookie Trophy, was selected to the league’s Second All-Star team, scored 53 goals (a rookie record then), and led the league in power-play goals (25).

Bossy’s meteoric rise continued in his second season with the Islanders. He led the league in goals (69), reached 100 goals in 129 appearances for the islanders (fastest in the NHL history), and led the Islanders to the playoff semifinals of the 1979-80 season where they lost.

The next four years (1980-83) were the most successful in the Islanders franchise history. It is during this time that they won all of their four Stanley Cups with Bossy’s dominance being central to all that was good at New York.

Starting the 1979-80 season slowly, the Islanders were in trouble and faced the prospects of missing the playoffs. Shrewd business by Bill Torrey, the GM, however, saw Bob Bourne brought in to bring balance to the team and mend the Islanders leaky defense.

After this mid-season trade, the New York Islanders went unbeaten for the rest of the season and made a magnificent run to the postseason that saw them lift the elusive Stanley Cup. That season, Bossy was an All-Star and led all postseason scorers with 11 points.

In the glory years that followed, Bossy was at his dominant best. He had a 9 hat trick season (A record then and second only to Wayne Gretzky’s 10), was a First Team All-Star, set the power play records for the playoffs, scored over 60 goals in three consecutive seasons (1982-83) and led his team to three consecutive Stanley Cup wins (1981,82, & 83).

Despite his dominance, Bossy has to deal with a myriad of injuries in his career. Bossy’s brilliance meant that teams used underhand tactics to curtail his play. There have even been confessions by some NHL defensemen about their all-out strategy to check Bossy hard. Despite these injury struggles, Bossy continued to reach unprecedented milestones. In 1988, however, a career-ending back problem flared up. With doctors failing to reach a diagnosis, Bossy had to cut short his illustrious career.

He retired aged 30 in October of 1988 having scored 573 goals and assisted 553 others in his 10 years with the NHL’s New York Islanders.

Career Milestones: Records, Achievements, Trophies.

Despite a rather short career, Bossy remains one of the most decorated players in the NHL’s history. He is a four-time Stanley Cup winner (1980-83), Calder Memorial Trophy winner (1978), Conn Smythe Trophy winner (1982) and Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner (1986, 1984, 1983). He is also a record holder of most consecutive 50+ seasons (9, with Wayne Gretzky), goals-per-game average (0.762), power-play goals in a postseason (9), most 60+ goal seasons (5), fastest to reach 100 goals (129 games) and most consecutive hat tricks (3).

In his career, Bossy returned 573 goals (21st all-time) and 553 assists for 1126 points in a 10-season, 752 games career in the NHL. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 and is considered one of the greatest hockey players of all-time.