Mike Bossy, quiet hero of the Stanley Cup-winning Islanders, has died

Oh my God: Mike Bossy, after the end of his magnificent hockey career, came to feel that the New York Islanders were underestimated. Wh...


Oh my God: Mike Bossy, after the end of his magnificent hockey career, came to feel that the New York Islanders were underestimated. Who could tell?

Authoritarian, died Friday at age 65was essential artist – as they say in his native Quebec — of the greatest team I have ever covered: so many superb players and mentalities that have prevailed, match after match.

In an unforgettable Stanley Cup final in 1982, I saw Bossy poach an overtime winning goal in Game 1, and in Game 3, in Vancouver, he was sent flying by his antagonist, Tiger Williams, to score a goal. during the flight. Unbeatable.

Yet authoritarian once told Sports Illustrated that he felt the islanders were not appreciated.

Just because the Islanders played in a drab barn in the flat suburbs of Long Island?

Just because the Islanders were a frugal, low-key organization that treated the Stanley Cup Finals like just a home game?

Just because the rival, under-productive Rangers got more attention coming out of Manhattan watering holes long after a game?

Just because the Edmonton Oilers had the mystique and – fair enough – a slender scorer nicknamed “The Great Gretzky?”

Bossy was a pale and gentle presence on the ice, and also in a scorching locker room, with his post-game cigarette. (I have often referred to this noxious presence; I think of it now that he died of lung cancer.)

Track and field geniuses aren’t necessarily the go-to men for reporters looking for news after a win or a loss. But Bossy was as decent as can be, ready to address the state of the club. And it was a big club for human beings – the serious Bob Nystrom, the incisive Bob Bourne, the jocular badass Clark Gillies, the stand-up Denis Potvin and the bilingual Swedes, Anders Kallur and Stefan Persson. Unknown? Not by me.

I still think of them as The Boys of Winter, a paraphrase of Roger Kahn’s tribute to the Brooklyn Dodgers – “The Boys of Summer”. These memorable characters, including deadpan Al Arbour, twinkling behind his glasses, the bully behind the bench, lashing out at players who might take him.

Authoritarian? Arbor told him to go out and score some goals. That’s how we treat the resident artist.

Bossy had the touch. He developed it on the flooded ice rink in his family’s backyard in Montreal. (Another favorite hockey artist me, Pierre Larouche from Quebec, talks about hearing — hearing — the speed and direction of the puck sliding on a frozen pond long after the sun has set. Follow the sound.)

When Bossy came with the Islanders in 1977-78, he was soon paired with two linemates who created a unit that would last a decade. Hockey lines – rushing for a quick minute or two, then ducking to the bench to restore energy – are unlike any other team on a sports team.

Bossy was paired with Gillies, who could score and defend and could also beat the Putin of a boring opponent, and Bryan Trottier, a two-way performer – scorer and passer, plus a cold-blooded assassin. Trottier and his buddy Bossy were friends, so different in style and temperament, complementing each other wonderfully.

Sometimes artists simply win matches. It’s now been four decades since the Vancouver Canucks came to Long Island to open a Stanley Cup Finals series.

In the grimy confines of the Nassau Coliseum, the Canucks battled the home team in overtime in Game 1, and veteran defenseman Harold Snepsts controlled the puck. Snepsts saw a lane open up and threw the puck sideways – the Stubborn Tiger Williams asserted he yelled at his teammate to hold on to the puck – but from the shadows and glare of the ice came Mike Bossy, by instinct and experience, intercepting the pass and timing it for the goal of death sudden.

The Islanders won Game 2 and both teams flew across the continent. In Game 3, Williams threw himself in front of the home fans, bracing Bossy when he could. But Bossy managed to follow up on a shot, while virtually horizontal over the ice, for a goal, and the Islanders won game three, and game four – a artist at the top of his game.

Two years later, the Islanders had won four consecutive Stanley Cups and came up against the maturing Oilers. The teams split the first two games on Long Island, then traveled to the province of Alberta for three straight games. The Islanders appeared to be skating on a Slurpees surface, with their key players having gone through the equivalent of an extra season of grueling Stanley Cup hockey, and the Islanders failed to win a game in Edmonton. The race was over.

Now the islanders had to talk, or not talk, about dethroning. The following paragraphs give an idea of ​​the kind of person Mike Bossy was:

“It’s the biggest disappointment I’ve ever felt in my career,” Bossy said. “There was always a feeling that we could overcome our setbacks. We were even on the brink earlier this year. But you never think that will happen. It’s an overwhelming feeling.

When asked if he noticed the young Oilers rushing to a mid-ice celebration as the seconds ticked by, Bossy showed the empathy we’ve come to expect: “It reminded me of the first time we won the Cup. The feeling of, ‘Finally, we won it.’ That’s what I could feel in them.

We tried to subtly suggest that the Islanders could have skated into hockey’s old age, after losing the Cup for the first time and facing the changes that were probably inevitable.

“I love all the guys on this team,” Bossy said. “To think that some of them might not be here is depressing. You hate seeing guys you’ve had good emotional times with go away. But it depends on the organization.

Bossy was asked if it helped to realize that the Islanders were dethroned by a good team, not a lucky team. He said: “They’re a good team, there’s no doubt about it, but that doesn’t help much.”

He ended up playing three more seasons, somewhat cautiously, on a nervous body that had been beaten and knocked down too many times. He left behind great statistics and became a humorous commentator, in French and English, on hockey and life itself. When he came back to Long Island, he was just as approachable as ever.

Were the Islanders – and Mike Bossy – underrated at the top level of their sport? Not here.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Mike Bossy, quiet hero of the Stanley Cup-winning Islanders, has died
Mike Bossy, quiet hero of the Stanley Cup-winning Islanders, has died
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