Mike Bossi, a winger of the Hockey Hall of Fame, who played a key role in holding the New York Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup champions in the early 1980s, died Friday at his home in Montreal. He was 65 years old.
Kimber Auerbach, the island’s communications director, said the cause was lung cancer. Bossi announced he had fallen ill in October.
The Islanders, founded as a team to expand the National Hockey League in 1972, won just 12 games in their first season at the Cologne Nassau on Long Island and were slightly better the following season.
But they began to reach the playoffs under CEO Bill Tory and coach Al Arbor, who put together teams in which Bossi was on the right flank and his teammates Brian Trotier at center, Clark Gillis on the left flank, Denis Potwin in defense and Billy Smith at the gate. (Gilis died of cancer on January 21 at age 67.)
The Islanders defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, the Minnesota North Stars, the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980-1983 Stanley Cup, then lost to the Oilers in the 1984 Cup final.
The Canadian-born Bossi was one of the fastest skaters in the NHL, and he possessed an amazing ability to fight off blows to the wrist before rival goalkeepers guessed the puck was going to them.
“Mike has the fastest hands I’ve ever seen,” Arbor once said, a former quarterback who played alongside Gordy Howe of the Detroit Red Wings and Bobby Hall of the Chicago Black Hawks.
Bossi has twice led the NHL in goals scored: 69 in the 1978-79 season and 68 in the 1980-81 season. He scored at least 51 goals in each of the first nine seasons before a back injury limited him to 38 goals last season. His 85 goals in 129 playoff games became the most significant in NHL history at the time.
Bossi has scored 573 goals and made 553 assists in 752 regular season games over 10 NHL seasons, all with the Islanders.
In 1991 he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
A refined player and slightly composed, Bossi shied away from tough checks and refused to engage in close combat.
“The guys knew he wasn’t going to fight,” Trotter said in a 1999 interview with Sports Illustrated. “They beat him with fists, spears, it didn’t matter. He didn’t need much space. The guy was so creative that he could do something special in half an inch. “
“I must have developed what the scouts called my quick hands and quick release, more for self-defense than anything else,” Bossi recalled in his memoir Boss: The Story of Mike Boss (1988, with Barry Meisel).. “The NHL has been increased, increased, increased compared to the junior. I learned to make quick passes and make quick punches so as not to be killed every time I had a puck. ”
Bossi won the Lady Byng Trophy for his gentlemanly play in 1983, 1984 and 1986. He suffered only a 210 minute fine.
He was selected by the Islanders at No. 15 in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft after being bypassed by teams that, despite his outstanding goals in junior hockey, felt he lacked the skills to wait to survive in the NHL.
Bossi briefly proved otherwise. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy in the 1977-78 season as a rookie of the year in the NHL, scoring a record-breaking 53 goals for beginners in 15 years. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the 1982 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Michael Bossi was born on January 22, 1957 in Montreal, one of 10 children of Borden and Dorothy Bossi. His father was of Ukrainian descent and his mother was English. Borden Bossi flooded the backyard of the family home in the winter to create a skating rink, and Mike learned to skate at 3 years old.
He dropped out of Laval’s Catholic High School to join Laval’s Quebec Junior Junior Hockey League at the end of the 1972-73 season and played four full seasons for Laval, scoring 309 goals.
Then came his Islanders draft.
Bossi’s career in the NHL was interrupted by a chronic injury. At the beginning of the Islanders training camp in 1986, he experienced back pain. He missed 17 games in the regular season and injured his left knee in the playoffs when the Flyers knocked out the Islanders in the previous round. Eventually, doctors found that he had two damaged discs that could not be surgically repaired. He spent the 1987-1988 season, then retired from hockey in October 1988.
In March 1992, the Islanders fired the 22nd-ranked Bossi, making him the second player to be honored after Patwin.
Among the survivors, Bossi is his wife Lucy Krymer Bossi and their daughters Jaziana and Tanya.
Bossy, who spoke two languages, after completing his playing career began doing business and broadcasting in Canada. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he resigned as a hockey analyst for the French-language channel TVA Sports in Montreal.
Despite all that Bossie and his Stanley Island Cup champions have achieved, they lacked the charisma of his contemporary, Center Oilers Wayne Hall of Fame Greek and Edmonton Greek teams that won four Stanley Cups in the 1980s.
“We’ve never gotten the millionth share of recognition we need,” Bossi once told Sports Illustrated. “We had a very restrained organization. They didn’t want the guys to do too much because they thought hockey could hurt. At the first mention of great teams do not talk about us.
He added: “It seems to me that as I get older, I get tired of telling people that I have scored over 50 nine years in a row. Everything I say seems like I’m bitter, but I’m not quite. It’s just that if you do something good, as our team did, you would like to get recognition for it. “
As for the comparison with the Greek, Bossi told The New York Times in January 1986, when he became the 11th player in NHL history to score 500 goals: “People call him the Great Greek. I can’t compete with that. I feel comfortable with what I have helped my team achieve. Another question is whether I consider Wayne Gretsky the greatest since apple pie. ”
Maya Coleman spoke in the report.