New York Islanders legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Bossy, considered by many to be the greatest pure goal scorer in NHL history, has died at the age of 65 after a battle with lung cancer, the team confirmed on Friday.
“The New York Islanders organization mourns the loss of MIke Bossy, an icon not only on Long Island but across the entire hockey world,” Islanders GM 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 straight Stanley Cup championships, shaping the history of the franchise forever.
“On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to the entire Bossy family and all those who grieve this tragic loss.”
The Montreal native announced in October of 2021 that he was battling the disease, forcing him to take a leave from his position as an analyst for TVA Sports in Canada.
“I can assure you that I intend to fight with the determination that you have seen me display on the ice and in my game,” Bossy wrote at the time. “That same determination that helped me achieve my dreams”
His condition had worsened in recent months before reports emerged on April 3 that he opted to enter palliative care.
Drafted by the Islanders in 1977, Bossy quickly developed into one of the most elite goal scorers the game of hockey has ever seen.
In a remarkable 10-year career, Bossy scored 50 or more goals in each of his first nine years in the pros before back issues cut his playing days short at just 30 years old — an NHL record that is one better than Wayne Gretzky’s best streak and a feat that likely will never be broken.
Those nine seasons of 50-plus goals are also tied with Gretzky for the most by any single player in a career — one better than Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin.
During that nine-year span, he led the league in goals twice with 69 in 1978-79 and 68 in a memorable 1980-81 campaign which saw him become just the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in 50 games. Only Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Brett Hull have done it since.
Creating one of the most imposing lines ever alongside fellow Hall of Famers Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies, Bossy was a centerpiece of an Islanders team that won four consecutive Stanley Cup titles from 1980-1983 — the last professional North American sports franchise to win that many championships in succession.
He posted a league-best 17 goals in each of New York’s final three Cup runs while winning the 1982 Conn Smythe Trophy for postseason MVP.
While retiring in 1987, he still holds Islanders franchise records with 573 goals, 180 power-play goals, 80 game-winning goals, and 85 playoff goals. He also ranks third in franchise history with 553 assists and second with 1,126 points.
His mark of 0.762 goals per game is an NHL record.
The Islanders retired Bossy’s number in 1988 before his election into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.
This has been an especially difficult year for the Islanders and their fan base having already suffered the sudden loss of Bossy’s linemate, fellow dynasty member, and Hall of Famer Clark Gillies in late January at the age of 67.