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Islanders Award Winners: Mike Bossy, Calder Trophy, 1978 (Part 1)

Our series of audio documentaries continues with the first half of a look at one of the most epic rookie seasons in NHL history.

Mike Bossy’s rookie season in the NHL has been the stuff of legend since it happened. But breaking league records and bringing fans out of their seats as a young phenom hid what was really going on in Bossy’s mind.

While projecting preternatural confidence, the winger worried about going to the minors, being attacked by goons roaming the ice and of generally not meeting his own hype.

Using Bossy’s own quotes from his 1987 book, Boss, we can dive deep into what he was feeling and thinking during his time in junior, when he was deciding whether to sign with the Islanders or the WHA’s Quebec Nordiques and during his first days on Long Island. Early in his first camp, Bossy was placed on a line with skilled center Bryan Trottier and burly left winger Clark Gillies, and immediately found his footing among the pros. But that didn’t stop the old junior fears from coming true.

This is Part One of a supersized two-part episode. In Part Two, we’ll examine the rest of Bossy’s rookie season, his friendship with Trottier, and a crushing playoff defeat that included a scary injury for the kid.

Mike Bossy’s autobiography Boss: The Mike Bossy Story, co-written by Barry Meisel, was used extensively, with excerpts read by Michael Paul Smith. Listen to Michael’s podcast “Ted and Michael Read Sketches into Microphones” wherever you find your podcasts, or directly from their website at And follow Michael on Twitter and Instagram @mpsmithnyc.

Here are some extra pictures and stories from the time:

Research and other assistance was provided by Kevin Schultz. Visit, where you can buy t-shirts, hoodies and mugs featuring the logos over over 100 classic hockey teams from all across North America, as well as our own Al Arbour tribute shirt. Use the code ANXIETY20 to get 20 percent off an order of two items. Our portion of the sales go directly to the Center for Dementia Research.

This episode of Islanders Award Winners was written using archival material from Newsday, The New York Times and Sports Illustrated, and the books New York Islanders: Countdown to A Dynasty by Barry Wilner, Pride and Passion: 25 Years of the New York Islanders by Stan Fischler and Chris Botta and Dynasty: The Oral History of the New York Islanders 1972-1984 by Greg Prato.

The following video clips were also used in the podcast:

On the next Islanders Award Winners: Part Two of our look at Bossy’s rookie season sees him breaking an NHL record, the Islanders breaking through as a division winner and the Maple Leafs breaking the Islanders in the playoffs.