Islanders legend Mike Bossy’s underrated career

UNIONDALE, NY - CIRCA 1980: Mike Bossy #22 of the New York Islanders skates during an NHL Hockey game circa 1980 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Bossy's playing career went from 1977-87. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NY - CIRCA 1980: Mike Bossy #22 of the New York Islanders skates during an NHL Hockey game circa 1980 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Bossy's playing career went from 1977-87. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Last week, New York Islanders legend Mike Bossy posted a letter announcing the beginning of his battle with lung cancer. Bossy works with a network in Canada called TVA Sports who presented a letter regarding his departure from his position to focus on treatment.

Mike Bossy is known for his outstanding career with the New York Islanders starting out in 1977 when he was drafted 15th overall. His career only lasted from 1977-1987 but it is one of the most successful a player has been within a 10-year span.

Bossy’s Beginning

Bossy averaged around 77 goals per season in his junior years and still managed to be passed up by multiple teams before the Islanders selected him. Bossy broke NHL scoring records as his first season went on.

His crazy success in his first year led him to win the Calder Memorial Trophy. He was also given the starting right-wing position for the Campbell Conference in the 1978 NHL All-Star game. Bossy even reached the scoresheet in the quarterfinals of the 1978 NHL Playoffs recording four points against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Islanders Stanley Cup Runs

During the first year of the Islanders dynasty, Bossy agreed to a new contract in hopes of a redemption year from the previous season. Around December, the Islanders veered out of a playoff spot which gave coach Al Arbour a signal to shake things up.

After the Isles overcame that obstacle, Bossy had “a bad season” for totaling 51 goals. The Islanders were in the playoffs but Bossy missed three games due to a hand injury. He still managed to push for success and ended up winning his first (and the Isles first) Stanley Cup.

In the 1980-81 season, Bossy had the opportunity to complete the stat of scoring 50 goals in 50 games. He was neck and neck with the LA Kings forward Charlie Simmer who fell one goal short in 50 games. On the same night, Bossy scored twice in the final five minutes of the game becoming the second player in NHL history to achieve 50 goals in 50 games.

During the same season, Bossy recorded a record of nine hat tricks and totaled 119 points in the regular season alone. Concluding the Islanders second year of winning the cup, Bossy set the record for most points and power-play goals accumulated during the playoffs.

To kick off year three of the dynasty, Bossy extended his career with the Isles by signing a six-year deal. He recorded the best season of his career finishing by demolishing old records. He recorded 147 points in the regular season as a right-winger. During the playoffs, he battled a knee injury in the Patrick Division Semi-Finals against the Penguins. He returned with a nagging knee injury to push for the team to have their third visit to the Stanley Cup Final.

Bossy scored seven times in the final and raised the cup for the third time. He also took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP in the 1981-82 playoffs.

In 1982-83 Bossy recorded three consecutive 60+ goal seasons finishing with a total of 118 points. He won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy at the end of the season and led the Isles to the playoffs for what would be their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup.

Post Dynasty Era

Bossy continued to work hard and push to do better every season. He recorded multiple point streaks during the 1983-84 season and scored his 400th goal that season. He was the fastest player in the NHL to hit that milestone. He ended the season by winning the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.

During Bossy’s eighth season with the Islanders, he had one of the strongest starts of his career. He averaged more than a goal per game in December of 1983 and concluded the season with his eighth consecutive 50+ goal season.

Bossy’s line was split in the following season when John Tonelli was traded to the Calgary Flames but this did not stop him from scoring. In January of 1986 Bossy became the fastest player to score 500 goals and netted his 1,000th point later that month.  These milestones led him to record his ninth consecutive 50+ goal season and become the record holder for most goals scored in the playoffs.

The Final Stretch

After another successful season, Bossy took home the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy again. Unfortunately, Bossy was slowed down in the start of his 10th season due to battling a back injury. After his return, he recorded 21 points in 12 games.

He attempted to battle through the pain but ended up resting near the end of the season. This prevented the Islanders legend from recording his tenth consecutive 50 goal season. He chose to rest in hopes of returning back in full strength for the 1987 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

When he returned ready to push for a fifth Stanley Cup, Bossy suffered a knee injury during game two of the first series. He was sat until the following series but the Islanders ended up getting eliminated.

Bossy had full intent to attend training camp for the 1987-88 NHL season but health officials concluded it was best he rested. He learned that his condition included two bulging discs in his lower back that could not be repaired.

He had one final shot to continue his playing career after receiving an offer from the LA Kings to play with Wayne Gretzky. Bossy declined in concern for his playing potential.

Post NHL playing career

Mike Bossy exposed himself to radio in 1993 and even gained experience in the business side of sports. Bossy returned to the Islanders organization as a front office worker in 2006 and later on, he was taken by MSG Networks as a hockey analyst.

He recently departed his job at TVA Sports due to his diagnosis of lung cancer. Bossy’s remarkable career will always be a staple in Islanders history as well as NHL history.