Growing up, I was a big New York Islanders fan. I don’t remember exactly what drew me to them instead of the Leafs or Habs, which were probably the favourites of 8 out of 10 kids back then. Nor do I remember when exactly they became my team. However, I suspect it had something to do with Mike Bossy. He was a right winger, I was a right winger. He seemed to like scoring goals. I liked scoring goals. What wasn’t to like about a guy like that?
He was called too timid to play in the NHL in spite of scoring over 300 goals in 4 years of junior. Did you know he was drafted 15th and the Leafs passed him over twice before that? He had to retire at 30 due to injuries but he still has the highest goals per game average (.762) of any player. What a great stat that is.
I remember the game where he matched Rocket Richard’s record of 50 goals in 50 games. Many had suggested that record would never be broken. (Don’t all great records have that said about them? Gretzky’s 212 points in one season is one that I might agree with that statement on though…but I digress).
Bossy had 48 going into that game and I remember watching it hoping he’d get the pair he needed. It didn’t look promising but then he got one with 5 minutes left and before the buzzer went, he got one more. I remember it as a vintage Bossy goal. Trottier fed him a big cross-ice pass to the top of the circle on the far side and although he didn’t one-time it, he got it off so quick the goalie never had a chance.
When I look back at the greatest goal scorers I’ve ever watched, I think of Bossy, Brett Hull, Lemieux and although Gretzky was never considered a pure goal scorer, he is kind of hard to discount given his stats. But I think Bossy and Hull were on par with each other and were in a class of their own.
(Derek George, who played on my St. Anne’s team when I was ten, could also find the back of the net pretty well but he never made the big leagues so I’m thinking he probably doesn’t belong in this comparison.)