May 14, 1984
Soon after right wing Mike Bossy retired from the New York Islanders in 1988, he found that the human funny bone could be just as inviting a target as the corner of a hockey net. Bossy was living in his native Montreal when CKOI-FM, a French-language radio station, invited him to read the sports news one morning. Soon he was hired for an afternoon show, and two years later was cohost of Quebec's top-rated morning show, Y'� trop d'bonne heure (It's too early).
Whether improvising a rap song about Quebec separatism or boarding an imaginary minisubmarine to visit the enflamed appendix of then Montreal Canadiens goal-tender Patrick Roy, Bossy was a zany but well-mannered host—sort of Howard Stern gone to finishing school. He proposed sumo kayaking, relay parachuting and downhill basketball to fatten the Olympic program, and suggested the Nordic combined would be more compelling with simultaneous shooting and ski jumping. He once phoned a Parisian bistro to request the French equivalent of Pop Tarts. "But we have no such thing," the woman replied after consulting two chefs, three waiters and a dictionnaire gastronomique. "No?" said Bossy. "How 'bout Cheez Whiz?" When an electronics store opened, Bossy phoned the shop and proposed warning labels explaining the difference between hibachi and Hitachi. "That way," Bossy told the bewildered store manager, "customers won't insert baked potatoes into their VCRs."
Today Bossy, whose 573 career goals and four Stanley Cups with the Islanders earned him election to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991, lives with his wife, Lucie, and their two teenage daughters in Montreal, where he works in public relations for Humpty Dumpty potato chips. Bossy left the show in '96, but says he wouldn't rule out another chance to tickle funny bones. "I crave challenges," he says, "especially those that make people smile."
Although chronic back pain forced Bossy from the game at age 30, he won three Lady Byng Trophies as the NHL's most gentlemanly player, was named MVP of the 1982 playoffs and averaged the most goals per season (57.3) in league history—not bad for a finesse player who was passed over by 14 teams in the '77 draft because scouts said he couldn't check a suitcase. "Guys knew Boss wouldn't fight. They'd punch him, spear him, it didn't matter," says Bryan Trottier, Bossy's longtime linemate. "He didn't need much room. The guy was so creative, he could make something special with just a half inch."
Or a Pop Tart.