Ignored by the NHL, he decided no man is an Islander forever -- and got into snack foods
Bossy hopes to build another dynasty in the chip business.
25 YEARS LATER: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
By Michael Farber
When the chips were down -- or in this case, out -- you could always count on one of hockey's best goal scorers to come through.
As bags of Humpty Dumpty potato chips flew out of the store during a $1 blowout at a Montreal supermarket, Mike Bossy marched into the stock room, grabbed an armful of boxes and began refilling the shelves.
"Jeez," said a customer who recognized Bossy, "I didn't realize you guys made so little money back when you played."
Bossy -- who had an unrivaled nine straight 50-plus-goal seasons for the New York Islanders of the late 1970s and early '80s, the dynasty time forgot -- always could go top shelf, but he's no stock boy.
For the past two years, Bossy, 48, has been the Quebec sales director for Humpty Dumpty, a snack-food manufacturer based in eastern Canada. He started out doing promotional work for the company in the late 1990s, after a three-year stint as part of the morning zoo crew on CKOI, a French-language radio station in Montreal.
Bossy also has done a smattering of hockey and sports commentary in French and English, and dabbled in the restaurant business. But since he worked for three seasons on Quebec Nordiques telecasts -- after a back injury ended his playing career at age 30 in 1987 -- none of Bossy's jobs has involved an association with an NHL team.
"To be honest, no NHL team ever has called me," says Bossy, who lives in Rosmere, Quebec, with wife Lucie and their two daughters. "I contacted the Canadiens at least two or three times [in the mid-1990s] because I thought I could help the organization in some way, not necessarily as a coach but in some role that could be developed. They never called back.
"I also thought I'd get a call [when former teammate Bryan Trottier was hired as New York Rangers coach in 2002]. The reason was, I remember having umpteen conversations with Bryan, having roomed with him for 10 years, that went, 'One of these days, Mike, we're going to take a team and do it our way.' I've found out since from Bryan [who was fired in his first season] that he wasn't going to be given that chance."
Bossy and Trottier were linchpins on a team that in 1980 won the first of four consecutive Stanley Cups. The Islanders' era was bookended by a spate of Cups won by the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers, decidedly sexier teams whose dominance, respectively, kicked off and concluded the 13-year period from 1976-88 that represents the NHL's golden age.
"I do a lot of promoting for how good [the Islanders] were," says Bossy, who averaged .762 goals per game in his Koufax-like 10-year career, the second highest average in NHL history behind Mario Lemieux's .823. "We never got one millionth of the recognition we should. We had a very low-key organization. They didn't want guys doing too much, because they thought the hockey might suffer. People don't talk about us in the first mention of great teams.
"I guess as I get older I get tired of telling people I scored more than 50 nine consecutive years. Everything I'm saying makes it sound like I'm bitter, but I'm not whatsoever. It's just that when you do something well, like our team did, you'd like to get recognized for it."