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On This Date in Sports March 5, 1985: The Bossman

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Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders becomes the first player in NHL history to have eight seasons of scoring 50 or more goals. Bossy accomplishment the feat in each of his first eight seasons. Mike Bossy nets a pair of goals to bring his season total to 51. It is not enough, as Islanders suffered a 5-4 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at the Nassau Coliseum.


Mike Bossy was born on January 22, 1957, in Montreal. Bossy showed an ability to put the puck in the net from an early age. With the Laval National of the QMJHL, Mike Bossy scored 309 goals in four seasons but was passed over by many teams in the NHL Draft, who did not think he was strong enough to play at a high level. Mike Bossy would ultimately be chosen with the 15th overall pick by the New York Islanders.   


After being chosen 15, with 12 teams passing over him, including the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs, who passed him over twice, Mike Bossy predicted that he would score 50 goals in his rookie season, a feat that had never been done by a first-year player. Bossy made good on his guarantee, scoring 53 goals to the win the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year in 1978. The arrival of Bossy singled the rise of the Islanders into a hockey power. 

Mike Bossy netted a career-best 69 goals in 1979 as the Islanders fell in the semifinals to the arch-rival New York Rangers. The Islanders would not lose another series until the 1984 Stanley Cup Finals, winning 19 straight series and four Stanley Cups along the way. In each of those five seasons, Mike Bossy had at least 50 goals, becoming the first player to have a 50-goal season in his first seven years in the league. This included the 1980/81 season, in which Mike Bossy became the second player (Maurice Richard) in NHL history to score 50 goals in 50 games. 


The Islanders dynasty began to fade in 1985, as they were defeated by the Philadelphia Flyers in the Patrick Division Finals. Bossy became the first player in NHL history to have eight seasons of 50-goals, finishing the year with 58. In the game in which he reached 50 again, the Islanders suffered a 5-4 loss to the Flyers that would be almost symbolic of the season. Mike Bossy scored his 50th goal in the second period, while the Flyers were building a 3-1 lead on a Brian Propp hat trick. The Islanders rallied in the third period, scoring twice to tie the game on goals by Denis Potvin and John Tonelli. After Lindsay Carson gave Philadelphia a 4-3 lead with 1:25 left, Mike Bossy scored his second goal 38 seconds later to force overtime. In overtime, Dave Poulin scored to give the Flyers a 5-4 win. 


Mike Bossy would top 50 goals again in the 1985/86 seasons. His ninth straight 50-goal season, in nine years on the ice, reaching 61 goals. The following year, injuries limited Mike Bossy to 63 games; still he managed to net 38 goals in what would be his final season. Bossy initially only planned to take off the 1987/88 season to rest his back but decided to retire instead. In total, Mike Bossy scored 573 goals in ten NHL season, only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux took fewer games to reach 500 goals. Mike Bossy remains the only player with a nine-straight 50-goal season. A feat that not even “The Great One” could accomplish. Wayne Gretzky would equal Mike Bossy’s record for nine 50-goal seasons in 1989 after falling short in 1988. It is possible the record could be equaled again, as Alex Ovechkin needs five more goals to achieve his ninth 50-goal season in 2020.