New York Islanders legend Mike Bossy had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all-time.
On June 12, 1978, his magnificent first season was recognized when Bossy was awarded the Calder Trophy, given "to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the NHL".
There was a chance it never happened.
Islanders GM Bill Torrey selected Bossy 15th overall in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft, with the New York Rangers famously and thankfully passing on him twice. However, it was no guarantee the sharpshooter would sign with the Isles and start his NHL career.
The WHA's Quebec Nordiques made a lucrative offer for the sniper. Torrey needed to up his offer as Quebec guaranteed more salary and a larger signing bonus. That's when the youthful and confident Bossy made a bold prediction to his bow-tie-wearing GM during negotiations.
Bossy told Torrey he would score 50 goals next season. The GM told him he should worry about making the team first. The offer came up but was still lower than he had received from Quebec. Bossy had a decision to make. "I thought about how I had dreamed of playing in the NHL," Mike wrote in his autobiography. "I thought about the Stanley Cup. I wanted to prove the scouts wrong by becoming an all-around great pro, a complete player.”
"If I did that in the vastly inferior WHA the skeptics would still raise debates," Bossy added. "I had to play against the best in the NHL. I decided to become a New York Islander.”
On February 22, 1978, he scored goals 43 and 44, which tied Rick Martin's NHL rookie goal-scoring mark. Then, on April 1st, Bossy scored No. 50 at 11:52 of the third period, then gets No. 51 with five seconds to play, giving the Islanders a 3-2 victory against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum.
Bossy would win finish the season with 53 goals, proving to himself, Torrey and the all the scouts that doubted him that he was worth everything he was paid and then some.