Hall of Famer Mike Bossy is the highest goal scorer in New York Islanders history and arguably the best pure goal scorer in NHL history. Thursday night is his tribute night before the Isles take on the Boston Bruins at Nassau Coliseum.
As the Isles have done with each of their honorees during this final season at the Coliseum, they held an open media availability with Bossy the morning of the game. It's 20 minutes of Bossy talking about old times, the "surreal" excitement around this year's team -- including the "Yes! Yes!" bond between players and fans -- and much more.
Below are a few excerpts. Watch the whole video above or at this location on the Isles official site.
Mike Bossy entered the league with questions about his defense (which, honestly, is a question about every young player). When faced with a choice between Bossy and another player at the draft, Al Arbour famously told Bill Torrey something to the effect of, "If he can score 50 goals, we can teach him to play defense."
Bossy, on that theme:
Al Arbour said if you're in good position defensively, then you're in good position offensively. We made sure that we were in the right position most of the times. Not saying we never got caught, God knows sometimes we did, sent the occasional blind pass that ended on the wrong stick once in a while. But we had a fair amount of success.
On Today's Team
I'll have to admit this whole season is a little surreal, I don’t think anyone expected the team to be where they are today. The reasons are simple. You have a goalie who is stopping pucks, which you absolutely need to win. You have a defensive corps that moves the puck out of their own end. This is not said with any disrespect to previous teams, but they seem to have the chemistry, they've found players who are getting the job done.
The young guys, it's finally sunk in. These guys are more mature, they know how to handle more situations a lot better than they used to. They have a number of lines out there with good chemistry together and it's working.
On His Old Teammates' Connection to the Community
For a lot of them, it was just like home. I was a bit different, I usually headed home over the summers but I would certainly hear about what's going on back here. ... They were always up for a free beer. So they’d head out to the softball games and do everything they had to solidify their place in the community.
Mike Bossy scored at least 50 goals (and on multiple occasions, nearly 70) in every regular season of his 10-year career except for the injury-shortened 10th season, when he scored 38 in 68 games.
All told, he scored 573 regular season goals and 85 more in the playoffs. If not for the bad back that forced him to stop playing beyond age 30, one can hardly fathom what his final career goal tally would have been.
I'm often asked who my favorite Islander of all time is, and my usual default answer is Bossy. But the fact one has to think about it each time -- who could say not to Trots? or Potvin? Gillies, Nystrom, Tonelli, Smith? -- is a testament to just how incredible that collection of dynastic talent was.