It may seem remarkable that a player with Bossy's goal-scoring reputation gets so many chances, but there is nothing mysterious about it. It is a matter of smarts and hard work. "Boss gets himself in the open," says Arbour, "and he's got players who can get the puck to him."
Resch calls Bossy a phantom. "I don't remember how Phil Esposito used to do it, either," the goaltender says. "One thing that's helped Bossy is that the refs don't automatically blow the whistle when two men are going for a puck in the corner anymore. Trots is like Earl Campbell in the corners—you just can't get a good enough piece of him to knock him off the puck. As a result, the other club often has to send a second man into the corners to work against Trots, too, and that leaves a man open around the net."
The open man will invariably be Bossy. Gillies commands one defense-man's attention while Bossy constantly moves to stay free. "He has enough sense to keep from getting clogged up in the middle," says Resch. "He'll hang back on the perimeter of the slot and dart in and out. Gee, he gets on a loose puck fast. He'll slap at them blindly, but a lot of those go in. His success is based on the theory that the man without the puck is the most dangerous man in the play. Freddie Shero is always telling his teams that. Then when Boss does get it, he doesn't keep it very long."
Bossy doesn't keep it very long because he knows exactly what he will do with the puck before he gets it, if he is within a certain range. He will shoot—and shoot quickly. "I will fan on some shots and miss the net on many more," he says, "but I know that to have success in this league I will have to shoot quickly."
That is the advantage a natural goal scorer like Bossy has: he doesn't have to think and then react, he has only to react. There are many other facets to his game—he is a deceptively quick skater, a competent passer and checker, a somewhat elusive stickhandler—but the bottom line on Bossy is that he is a goal scorer.
"People try to compare me to Guy La-fleur," Bossy says. "I'll never try to do that. He's a spectacular player, and I'm not." It seems to be a contradiction but scoring goals Bossy's way is not spectacular. Don't expect any rink-long dashes from him, à la Hull or Lafleur. That's not his game. His game is to get open and to shoot the puck when it hits his stick. The pure scorer is a breed apart, and Bossy is the best of that breed.
"I'm always disappointed when I don't score, whether we win or lose, whether I have 10 shots on goal or none," Bossy says. "I like to score goals. The team comes first, and if the team wins, I'm happy. But I'm still disappointed if I don't score a goal. There's just something in me that's that way."
No need to apologize, Boss. Say...you haven't seen a billfold lying around here, have you? It was right here a second ago.... Boss...? Boss...!
You just can't trust a fast-handed son of a gun. Never could.