Mike Bossy, one of hockey’s most prolific scorers and a star of the New York Islanders during their 1980s Stanley Cup dynasty, has died after a battle with lung cancer. He was 65 years old.
TVA Sports, the French-language network in Canada where he worked as a hockey analyst, confirmed Bossy died Thursday night. An Islanders spokesperson said Bossy was in his native Montreal, where the team will play Friday night against the Canadiens.
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.
He 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.
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 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.
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.
On Friday morning, NHL legend Wayne Gretzky tweeted a photo of himself with Bossy, writing, “It was an honor to play with you. We will miss you.
“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 is one of five players to score 50 goals in 50 games. 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 has scored three overtime goals.
Led by Bossy, Gillies, Bryan Trottier and defenseman Denis Potvin, the Islanders took over from Scotty Bowman’s 1970s Montreal Canadiens as the NHL’s next dynasty before Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers took control of 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.
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 was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991 and in 2017 was named one of the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called Bossy a “dynamic winger” whose goalscoring prowess ranks among the greatest in NHL history.
“Although containing him was the obsession of opposing coaches and controlling him the center of attention of opposing players, Bossy’s brilliance was unstoppable and his production relentless throughout his career,” Bettman said. “He thrilled the fans like few others.”
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. Bossy also represented Canada at the Canada Cup in 1981 and 1984, long before NHL players began competing in the Winter Olympics.
Bossy retired his number 22 on March 3, 1992, and his banner now hangs at UBS Arena.