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Mike Bossy, Islanders legend and Hockey Hall of Famer, dies at 65

bossy islanders

UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 29: Former New York Islandes Mike Bossy waves to the crowd prior to the game duing Mike Bossy tribute Night at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on January 29, 2015 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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New York Islanders legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Bossy has died after battling lung cancer.

Bossy, 65, announced in October that he was stepping away form his analyst job with TVA Sports after being diagnosed.
“The New York Islanders organization mourns the loss of Mike Bossy, an icon not only on Long Island but across the entire hockey world,” said Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello in a statement. “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 this 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 Islanders’ first-round pick in the 1977 NHL Draft, Bossy won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year that season with 53 goals and 91 points. That was the first of nine consecutive seasons where he would score at least 50 times. He reached at least 60 goals five times, including a career high of 69 in his sophomore season.

Bossy’s second NHL season saw him make history as he scored 50 goals in 50 games, matching Maurice Richard, with two goals during a January 1981 win over the Quebec Nordiques.

In 753 career games over 10 NHL seasons, Bossy compiled 573 goals and 1,126 points, all with the Islanders. His 0.76 goals per game average is the highest among all players with at least 200 games played.

Bossy’s offensive production continued into the postseason as he scored 85 goals and recorded 160 points in 129 playoff games, helping the Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980-83 and winning the 1982 Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP. His 0.71 goals per game average in the playoffs is second only to Mario Lemieux and his 1.24 points per game average is seventh all time.

A back injury ended Bossy’s career in 1988 and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 along with former Islanders teammate Denis Potvin. A few months later the franchise retired his No. 22.

“Well, your knee is never going to fully heal,” Bossy wrote in The Players Tribune in 2017. “It won’t seem like a big deal, because you can skate just fine. But in the future, when medical science gets more advanced, they’ll discover that this kind of imbalance has an effect on your body in subtle ways. Nine years into your NHL career, before you even reach age 30, your back is going to go out on you. And when the back goes, it’s over.

“You’re not going to be able to write the ending to your story on your own terms. And that will be a very tough pill to swallow. But it will also be a good lesson for you as a young man. It’s just how life works. There’s only so much of our story that we can write ourselves. A lot of it is prewritten for us.”

Bossy’s death is another loss this season for the Islanders family. In January, fellow Hall of Famer and four-time Cup champion Clark Gillies passed away after a cancer battle. Jean Potvin, who spent parts of eight seasons with the franchise in the 1970s and early ‘80s died in March.


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.