Former NY Islanders great Mike Bossy passes away at age 65

NHL Hall-of-Famer got his start playing for the QMJHL’s Laval National

Whether it was in Laval, where Mike Bossy spent an important part of his early life, or in Elmont NY, where he spent his entire hockey career (1977-1987) playing for the NHL’s New York Islanders, hockey pros and sports writers alike were remembering him last week following the Hockey Hall of Famer’s death on April 14 at age 65.

Mike Bossy was honored by the Islanders after his playing days were over. (Photo: Courtesy of CBC)

Known as “Mike” to English language sports writers and as “Michel” by their counterparts in Quebec’s French-language sports media, Bossy was versatile – just as he was warmly embraced by people on each side of the linguistic divide – because all wanted to claim him as one of their own.

Attended Laval Catholic H.S.

Mike Bossy was the fifth in a family of ten children, and spent part of his childhood in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville district of Montreal. He later attended Laval Catholic High School in Laval. Former Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Pierre Creamer (for whom the City of Laval renamed the Chomedey Arena in 2019) was Bossy’s brother-in-law.

Mike Bossy started his junior career with the Laval National of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) at the age of 15. After the Laval National moved to New Brunswick in 1998 to become the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Bossy’s No. 17 sweater was retired in recognition of his excellence. After joining the Islanders, he helped propel them to four consecutive Stanley Cups during the early 1980s.

A major record holder

Mike Bossy was inducted into the NHL’s Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991, after which his No. 22 Islanders sweater was retired. He holds several NY Islanders team records, including as the all-time regular season goals leader with 573. He is also the Islanders’ leader in career playoff goals with 85, and he holds the team single-season record for playoff goals, which he achieved in three straight playoffs starting in 1980–81.

In January 2017, Bossy was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history. As of 2022, he held or shared the following NHL records:

  • Most consecutive 50+ goal seasons: 9
  • Most 50+ goal seasons: 9
  • Most 60+ goal seasons: 5
  • Highest goals-per-game average career: .762 goals per game
  • Most power-play goals, one playoff season: 9
  • Most consecutive hat tricks: 3

Tributes from near and far

In Montreal, the Gazette’s veteran sports writer Stu Cowan paid homage to Mike Bossy last week, quoting Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis (another hockey great with roots in Laval) as saying, “It’s a sad day for the hockey community.”

Former New York Islanders great Mike Bossy (seen here on the far right in December 2019 during a ceremony marking the renaming of the Chomedey Arena to the Aréna Pierre Creamer) passed away last week at age 65. (Newsfirst Multimedia file photo: Martin C. Barry)

“He’s somebody that did so much for the game of hockey, so much for the community – even after he was done playing,” added Habs right-winger and alternate captain Brendan Gallagher.

In New York last week, the venerable New York Times considered Mike Bossy’s passing significant enough to warrant not just one, but two articles.

New York Times pays homage

“The Canadian-born Bossy was among the N.H.L.’s fastest skaters, and he possessed an uncanny ability to get off wrist shots before opposing goalies had any notion that the puck was coming their way,” wrote NYT sportswriter Richard Goldstein. In an article published on the same day last week, NYT sports columnist George Vecsey referred to Bossy as “the indispensable artiste — as they say in his native Quebec — of the greatest team I ever covered: so many superb players and mentalities who came through, game after game.”