Mike Bossy, one of hockey’s most prolific goal scorers and a star for the New York Islanders during their 1980s dynasty, has died. He was 65.
The Islanders and TVA Sports, the French-language network in Canada where he worked as a hockey analyst, confirmed Bossy died Thursday night. A team spokesperson said Bossy was in his native Montreal, where the Islanders will play Friday night against the Canadiens.
Bossy had said in October in a letter to TVA Sports that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
“It is with a lot of sadness that I need to step away from your screens, for a necessary pause,” Bossy wrote in French. “I intend to fight with all the determination and fire you’ve seen me show on the ice.”
It’s the third loss since that Islanders was this year after fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Clark Gillies died in January and Jean Potvin died in March.
“The New York Islanders organization mourns the loss of Mike Bossy, an icon not only on Long Island but the entire hockey world,” Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement. “His drive from him to be the best every time he stepped on the ice was second to none. Along with his teammates from him, he helped win four straight Stanley Cup championships, shaping the history of this franchise forever.”
The New York Islanders are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the greatest pure goal scorer, four-time Stanley Cup Champion and Hockey Hall of Fame member, Mike Bossy. https://t.co/hbyozJ4BUS
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 15, 2022
Daughter Tanya Bossy said her father was “no longer in pain.”
“My dad loved hockey, sure, but first and foremost 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.”
Funeral arrangements were pending.
Bossy helped the Islanders win the Stanley Cup from 1980 to 1983, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1982. He scored the Cup-winning goals in 1982 and 1983 — one of just two players to do so in back-to- back seasons.
“The National Hockey League mourns the passing of Mike Bossy, the dynamic winger whose goal-scoring prowess during a remarkable 10-year career ranks, by almost any measure, as one of the greatest in NHL history and propelled the New York Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “… Though containing him was the obsession of opposing coaches and checking him the focus of opposing players, Bossy’s brilliance was unstoppable and his production relentless throughout his entire career. He thrilled fans like few others.”
Before taking the ice on an emotional night at Bell Centre, Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier shared what Bossy meant to his family and career.
“Mike Bossy was a name often mentioned in my household growing up as my father idolized him,” Beauvillier wrote on Instagram. “He would tell stories about how good of a goal scorer he is and how he would make it so easy. When I first put the [Islanders] jersey on… it’s the first thing my dad told me ‘Same team as Mike.’ It’s always been an honor for me wearing the same jersey as Mike.”
A first-round pick in 1977, Bossy played his entire 10-year NHL career with New York. He won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, got the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly conduct three times and led the league in goals twice.
Bossy scored 50 or more goals in each of his first nine seasons — the league’s longest streak. He and Wayne Gretzky are the only players in hockey history with nine 50-goal seasons.
One of only five players to score 50 goals in 50 games, Bossy 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 career scoring list. Those are all in the regular season, when Bossy put up some of the best numbers in the history of the game. In the playoffs, Bossy was even more clutch. He is the only player with four game-winning goals in the same playoff series, and he scored three playoff overtime goals.
Led by Bossy, Gillies, Bryan Trottier and defenseman Denis Potvin, the Islanders succeeded Scotty Bowman’s 1970s Montreal Canadiens as the NHL’s next dynasty before Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers took over.
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 the 100-goal mark and ranks 22nd on the career goals list. In the playoffs, Bossy had 160 points in 129 games.
Back and knee injuries ultimately ended his career in 1987. He scored 38 goals but was limited to 63 games and was unable to return for an 11th season.
Bossy was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991 and in 2017 he was named one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players. The Islanders retired his No. 22 from him in March 1992.
Before reaching the NHL, Bossy played five seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Laval National. He had 602 points in 298 QMJHL games. Bossy also represented Canada at the Canada Cup in 1981 and 1984, long before NHL players began going to the Winter Olympics.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.