Mike Bossy 1987-88: Chronic Back Injury
Not only did the late Mike Bossy, unfortunately, have to deal with being targeted in his entire career due to both his smaller size and amazing goal-scoring abilities on the ice, but he always had to deal with back issues for the latter season of his career, forcing him to retire at the young age of 30.
Even though Bossy only played in 10 NHL seasons, he is still widely considered one of the best, if not the best player to ever don the blue and orange. In every season except for his last, he scored at least 50 goals which is an NHL record he shares with Wayne Gretzky, and scored over 60 goals five times. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1981-82 when he led the playoff with 17 goals, which was the third of four consecutive championship seasons for the Islanders. He finished his career with 573 goals and 1,126 points in just 752 games, holding the all-time record for average goals-per-game at .762. Even in his final injury-hampered season, Bossy still scored 38 goals and scored his final goal in the second round of the 1987 playoffs.
"I didn't want to be ordinary. I didn't want to only play half of the games because of my bad back. Not playing the way that I knew I could just discouraged me to the point where I said I'm not going to play anymore."- Mike Bossy
If Bossy wasn't forced to retire, there is reason to believe he could have been a top 10 player in NHL history in everyone's mind, not just some. Bossy even finished with the third-highest points per game mark in league history behind Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, who also had his legendary career shortened due to injuries and cancer. Statistically speaking, Bossy could have easily threatened the 2,000-point mark over a full career, and there's a solid chance he could have finished with even more goals in his career than Gretzky, who holds the current all-time record at 894.
Bossy is one of a few NHL all-time greats that had his hall-of-fame career cut far too short with so much promise even entering his latter years, with names such as Lemieux and Bobby Orr coming to mind. Nevertheless, Long Island was lucky to be able to call the legendary right winger their own for the short amount of time that they could.