Please help a younger fan understand: Mike Bossy

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by nerdman60, Oct 11, 2011.

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  1. nerdman60

    nerdman60 Registered User

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    Hello Hockey Historians,

    I was born in the late 80s and didn't follow hockey until the mid 90s when I was in elementary school. The Gretzky vs Lemieux threads got me thinking and researching some of the all time greats in the NHL. I never saw alot of the players that are constantly mentioned like Orr, Richard, Howe and even parts of Gretzky and Lemieux's careers, so all I have to go by are the numbers I dug up on hockeydb.com.

    so..1 player in particular is Mike Bossy, he won 4 stanley cups and had (if i wasn't mistaken) 8 consecutive 50 goal seasons?

    How come a player that put up those kind of numbers never in the discussion for one of the greats or compared to Gretzky or Mario? did he score alot of ugly goals? did he play with no flair?

    and lastly what current NHL player would be the best comparison to Mike Bossy?

    thanks! and enjoy the new season.
     
  2. tjcurrie

    tjcurrie Registered User

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    For the record it was 9 straight 50+ goal seasons which is the record.

    Anyways...

    For one, his career ended short. He only played 752 games. Of course Orr get's more recognition though so that's not really the main reason. The main reason is that goal scorers historically are seen not as guys you would start your team with but rather complimentary players. It may not be fair but that's how lots of people view them, especially wingers. Gordie Howe would be the exception, as he was winning multiple Art Ross trophies rather than just leading in the goal department as well as he played a hard physical game where Bossy did not. I also think most look at his center, Bryan Trottier, as the better all-round player and the guy who did the dirty work. If you're just talking goal scorers though, Bossy has to be at least in the top 5 of all-time on most people's lists. The guy in the league now you would probably compare him to is Stamkos I guess.

    I wasnt born yet when Bossy began and I was very young throughout his career but I do feel that's pretty accurate.
     
  3. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    This is actually a common misconception about Gordie Howe. He was actually an even better playmaker than he was a goalscorer. I think he was a guy who controlled the puck whenever he was on the ice, like Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky, but not quite to the same level (though with a much stronger physical game and defensive game than either).

    As for the original question, Bossy was great, but he was never considered the best player in the league.
     
  4. Pear Juice

    Pear Juice Registered User

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    His numbers are usually downplayed somewhat in the grand scheme of things when you consider that he played for the most succesful team (the Isles) during the highest scoring period in NHL history (the early 80s). There's no denying however that he actually did score those goals, he actually does hold a couple of goal-scorers records and the Isles actually did win those cups much due to his presence on the team. I would say he was also an underrated playmaker, his 83 assists in 81-82 is the 2nd highest total ever for a Right Wing.

    He only played 9 full seasons. Arguably he was in his prime for all of those. I wouldn't say that he's a what-if kind of player, because we truly know what he was capable of. But there is this uncertainty of what he would have achieved had he been able to play an extra 752 games. His per-game ratios (which are now absolutely outstanding, due to his 9-year peak followed by an abrupt end) would quite likely decrease a bit, but he would just as likely rack up some very impressive career totals.

    The threesome of Bossy, Trottier and Potvin blended together perfectly to be the centerpoint of one of the best hockey teams ever seen in the NHL. As with many of the great lines of history, it's difficult to tell who's contribution was more important, and I'm not sure if there's really any meaning to it. They were a unit in a team that won four straight Stanley Cups. And when all things are considered that's what really matters.
     
  5. Rhiessan71

    Rhiessan71 Just a Fool

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    With Bossy, it was about his release and his willingness to go to the dirty area's and take an absolute beating while doing it.
    He wasn't physical at all and never really stood up for himself, even gained the rep for being a big p***y but he was definitely tough. Just not the push back/drop your gloves kind of tough.

    I agree that his playmaking skills are a little underrated but he was a shooter first and foremost.

    I see someone trying to downplay his accomplishments by saying he was on such a great team but Gretzky's team was pretty good too and scored a hell of a lot more goals than the Isles. Yet Bossy is the one with the all-time record for consecutive 50 goals seasons with 9 and almost 10 before his back gave out ;)
     
  6. Pear Juice

    Pear Juice Registered User

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    What I meant to say was that it is an argument that people commonly lean to, but not necessarily something I agree with. I believe he is one of the most offensively gifted players ever.

    Wasn't Bossy a quite vocal proponent of reducing the amount of violence/fighting in the NHL? I guess that helped produce the image of him as a "weak" player, something which is obviously not true. I guess the constant abuse he took was what in the end made him hang up the skates way too early.
     
  7. brianscot

    brianscot Registered User

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    Bossy was the best pure shooter that I've ever seen.

    As others have mentioned, it was his release and willingness to visit the dirty areas which propelled him.

    Yes, he was surrounded by great teammates, but Bossy was always the most important and dangerous goal scorer on that dynasty.

    High scoring era be damned, greatness is greatness and anyone who scores on 21.2 % of their shots for their entire career is ungodly --- yes, yes, that no doubt would be lower in today's hockey with better quality goaltending populating the entire league.

    Bossy, however, wasn't pretty to watch. He wasn't an elegant skater like Lafleur or dominant physically like Howe. He was a champion workman who knew how to find the seams and then lasered home opportunities.
     
  8. VanIslander

    VanIslander Don't waste my time

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    He was simply the greatest SNIPER in hockey history.

    There's a famous story of coach Arbour telling the team the powerplay strategy was to pass the puck to Potvin. So they practiced it: Trottier to Bossy to, hey, he suddenly shoots, and scores. Everyone laughs and they set up again. Trottier to Bossy, he hey, shoots and scores! Okay now, enough of that, time to follow the coach's plan. So off they go. Trottier to Bossy, and, yes, he shoots and scores once again. The coach calls them over and says: The team plan is: get the puck to Bossy!

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Jag68Sid87

    Jag68Sid87 Nothing Else Maattas

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    Most of it has already been said. The 'Boss' was such a naturally gifted scorer. He had an uncanny ability to get open in the slot area, and then boom...it's in the net. Brett Hull's game was similar to the Boss, but I feel Bossy had better hockey sense than Hull. And I believe he was better defensively, and also a bit better passer. Bossy was underrated in a lot of areas of his game.

    As for whose game is similar to Bossy's in today's game, think of Steven Stamkos if Stamkos played right wing instead of center. Bossy wasn't as good in the skating department, but he had the same nose for the net and the quick release. And back then, Bryan Trottier was to Boss what Martin St. Louis is to Stamkos. Brett Hull is a better comparable to Bossy though, because they played the same position.

    In terms of all-time RWs (excluding those I haven't seen in their prime like Rocket Richard and Gordie Howe), I would rate Bossy somewhere in the top three...with Jagr and Lafleur. Bossy probably gets the nod ahead of both, though.
     
  10. KingGallagherXI

    KingGallagherXI Registered User

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    No, the main reason is that he just wasn't that dominant. No Art Ross, 2 goal scoring titles, 6 times top 5 in points which is great, but nothing compared to what Gretzky, Lemieux, Orr, Howe, Hull, Richard, Béliveau, Mikita, Lafleur, Jagr (etc.) achieved.
     
  11. Ola

    Ola Registered User Sponsor

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    In the end, or maybe in the "grand scheme of things", its kind of like comparing Corry Perry with AO or Sid.

    I am a big fan of Perry, but when I for example saw him in Stockholm this weekend, I was -- honestly -- not even remotely as impressed with him as I've been when I've seen other mega stars live.

    Basically, he wasn't a dominating player in the sense that he had a major impact on the games he played (natrually compared to Gretzky and co ;)). It might sound a bit ridiculous, but sometimes it seems like its easy to forget that. How much of a impact player someone was. How "good" they were.

    He wasn't on par with someone like AO as of today in that regard, than you can imagine how he matched up against Gretzky.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
  12. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

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    Bossy had some serious competition for awards too, though. His first couple of years he had peak production level Trottier/Lafleur and after that it was Gretzky Gretzky Gretzky.

    Even leading the league in goals twice against Gretzky/the Oilers in the 80s is a real accomplishment.

    That being said, 9 straight 50 goal seasons and 3 straight 17 goal playoffs reinforce what everyone has already said: Mike Bossy is one of the best pure triggermen the league has seen.

    The person above who compared him to Brett Hull made a good comparison. I do think they were both similar in the way that everyone knew they were a great goal scorer and was trying to cover them, but both Brett and Mike would find a little space at just the right time and both of them had crazy releases.. it would be in the net in that little moment.
     
  13. shazariahl

    shazariahl Registered User

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    I have to agree with this. Not to take anything away from him, as Bossy was an amazing player, but he isn't usually in the conversation with Gretzky and Lemieux simply because he wasn't on their level. Goal scoring he was at least in the ball park - his consistancy simply can't be overlooked, but he didn't have the insane peaks that those two did (Gretzky with 92 and 87 goal seasons, Lemieux with 85. Bossy's best was 69, during the same time period as Gretzky, and a slightly higher scoring one than Lemieux).

    In addition to not having the high peak, he just didn't have the points. Gretzky was breaking 200 nearly every year for a while, and Bossy was usually 75+ points back. Some quick comparisons:

    1981-82
    Gretzky 92 G, 120 A, 212 Pts
    Bossy 64 G, 83 A, 147 Pts (2nd league scoring)

    82-83
    Gretzky 71 G, 125 A, 196 Pts
    Bossy 60G, 58A, 118 Pts (4th league scoring)

    83-84
    Gretzky 87G, 118 A, 205 Pts (74 games played)
    Bossy 51G, 67 A, 118 Pts (67 games played) (5th league scoring)

    84-85
    Gretzky 73G, 135 A, 208 Pts
    Bossy 58G, 59 A, 117 Pts (76 games played) (6th league scoring)

    85-86
    Gretzky 52G, 163 A, 215 Pts
    Bossy 61G, 62 A, 123 Pts (5th league scoring)

    And that kind of tells the story right there. While Bossy was putting up his great seasons, he was being completely eclipsed by Gretzky. Its not that Bossy wasn't doing well - clearly he was - but it is almost impossible to make an arguement that he was comparable to Gretzky when he was being beaten by nearly 100 points some seasons. Furthermore, he wasn't even #2 many of these years, while Gretzky was obviously winning Art Ross after Art Ross. In multiple seasons Gretzky had more assists than Bossy had points.

    I think that Bossy would be regarded closer to Gretzky had they not played in the same era. At least then people could have made an arguement, but since they overlapped so much, and Gretzky was so clearly dominant over him, there just isn't anything there (other than pure goal scoring standpoint, of course). Gretzky had the better peak, prime, and longevity while winning an equal number of cups and demolishing him in points.
     
  14. tjcurrie

    tjcurrie Registered User

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    That's kinda what I meant. Though Howe was the goal scorer, he would also lead the league in points meaning assists as well. Doing it all.
     
  15. nerdman60

    nerdman60 Registered User

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    wow thanks for the insight everyone. Very nice read. thanks again.
     
  16. Bring Back Bucky

    Bring Back Bucky Registered User

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    As a ten year old Oilers fan, I ****ing hated everything New York Islanders from 1981 out..

    That said, if I had to lay my life on the line with one player with the puck on his stick in the slot with five seconds on the clock, it would be that spooky chain smoking ghoul Mike Bossy. Truest representative of the word sniper that I ever saw.
     
  17. David McConnor

    David McConnor Unregistered User

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    Typical snipe from Snipey McSniperson at about 0:40

     
  18. Trottier

    Trottier Very Random

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    Love it!

    And as a young NYI fan at the time, the feeling was mutual towards your dynasty!

    No one will ever convince me that the game has seen a more prolific sniper than #22.

    Der Kaiser - as you suggested, the abuse absolutely was why he retired early. His back was shot at age 30, from all the cross checks.

    Oddly, I remember Bossy observing on multiple occasions that he never picked a spot to shoot the puck on net. He said he never even really looked. He just fired away.
     
  19. Rhiessan71

    Rhiessan71 Just a Fool

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    Yep, I don't care what goalie is in net there, that's going in.
    I doubt there's many players today, even with the new super sticks, that could make that shot with that velocity, with that quick of a release.

    That's one thing you will always notice when you meet old time hockey players, most of them have wrists and fore-arms the size of the average persons ankle's and calves heh ;)

    I remember when I was in junior, a very popular and very simple exercise was to get a cylinder wooden handle with a string attached to it with a weight at the other end. Guys would roll that weight up and down for hours.
    I was a goalie so I just drove people nuts with my little indian ruber ball against a wall for hours ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  20. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    Ditto. Only in my case the eccentricities & demanding attitude rather than the indian rubber ball (after my time; wasnt that Tretiaks' contribution?) drove people crazy. As for Bossy, the poor guy & the Islanders were sandwiched in between the Dynastys of the Powerhouse Habs' & the Gretzky Oilers. He's actually railed to the media about it, the "Islanders dont get the same respect despite winning"... etc. On the negative; arrogant, chip on his shoulder. Positive; one of the greatest pure goal scorers of all time, unbelievably quick release, smart. Knows his music as well. Host on CKOI FM Montreal for awhile after retiring; always hopeful in looking to get back into the game as an Asst Coach or Scout... disappointed that it hasnt happened rather than making it happen himself.
     

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