In a team known for their blue-collar flair, Mike Posey was elegant and meticulously styled akin to the bargain, as a pure goal scorer as he produced hockey, with a crest neatly aligned with the islanders’ dynasty years.
It was only one of many key elements that led to four Stanley Cup wins in four seasons in the early 1980s. But Bose’s contributions were unique.
So when the islanders announced his death on Friday morning at age 65, after it was announced in October that he had lung cancer, the news hit hard in the islander’s community — and the wider hockey world after it.
“The New York Islanders organization mourns the loss of Mike Posey, an icon not only on Long Island but throughout the entire hockey world,” Lou Lamoreillo, Islanders President and General Manager, said in a statement. “His quest to be the best every time he steps on the ice has been second to none. Along with his teammates, he helped win four consecutive Stanley Cup championships, shaping the history of this franchise forever. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our sincerest condolences to the entire Posey family and to all Those who mourn this tragic loss.”
Widely considered among the island’s top three all-time residents alongside defender Denis Botvin and quarterback Brian Trotier, Busey spent his 10-year career with the team before retiring due to chronic back problems.
If he had played in his mid to late thirties, it might have been him, not Wayne Gretzky, who was chased by Alex Ovechkin to score goals in the National Hockey League.
Gretsky finished 894 goals in the regular season, far ahead of Busey’s 573 goals. But Boss’ 0.762 goal per game ranked him first in National Hockey League history, ahead of Gretzky’s 0.601.
He was that kind of talent, a sniper who did his job relatively quietly, thanks to the efficiency of his shot and overall game play.
His best moment of the regular season came on January 24, 1981, when he joined Maurice Richard as the second player to score 50 goals in 50 matches – he needed two goals in the last five minutes against Nordic to reach the milestone.
Brian Trotier helped out in 50th place, which came with 1:29 remaining. This was convenient, given the long-running first-line partnership between Bossy and Trottier, often with Clark Gillies as their left winger. (Gillis died on January 21, 2022, the first of 17 four-time Islanders to win the Cup for an islander to go.)
In a 2017 article in The Players’ Tribune — written as a letter to his 14-year-old self — Bossy concluded with this: “Thank God you’re an islander, and I love you, Bryan Trottier.”
Born on January 22, 1957, the fifth of 10 children, Posey was raised in Montreal in a four-bedroom apartment. He slept on a cot at the end of the hallway, according to an article in The Players’ Tribune.
In it, he recalls moving to Laval, Quebec, when he was 14, a move that came with a new home for his family and his real first bedroom, but also struggling with opponents who sought to defeat the scorer. .
Bossy always hated being considered an effortless scorer, as if he hadn’t worked hard on the craft.
The rough stuff left Bossy with a permanently disfigured nose, but it never changed his aversion to fighting, something he avoided in the NHL as his teammates sought to shield him from trouble.
One of the advantages of life in Laval was meeting the girl who worked behind the snack bar at the rink, Lucy Kramer, who later became his wife.
As of 2021, his 309 goals (in 263 games) are still the record for Major League Hockey in Quebec.
By 1977, Posey ranked him a first-round pick, but 12 teams passed him — Rangers and the Maple Leafs twice each — in part because of his reputation for prowess at handling toughness and defense.
Having finished 15th overall, Bossy Trotter was quickly associated as his centerpiece, Islander General Manager Bill Torey, scoring 53 and 46 goals, respectively, in the Bossy Calder Trophy winning junior season.
Bossy scored 69 career goals in 1978-79, but the following season he and his teammates finally celebrated the biggest prize in the sport.
Bossy considered it a pivotal character moment in the first game of the 1980 Cup Final when Flyers strongman Mel Bridgeman ran over to Mel Bridgeman. This was his way of making a statement that he would not be bullied.
In the Islanders’ four-game playoff round during their Cup winning streak, Bossy scored 61 goals in 72 games.
He won the Con Smith Cup in 1982 – when the Islanders won their third cup – after scoring seven goals in the final, a four-game sweep of the Canucks.
In 1983, Bossy scored nine goals in six games against the Bruins in the Conference Finals.
By 1986-1987, with one year left on his contract, his back problems had become unbearable. He partially blamed them on overcompensating a right knee injury he sustained during the long jump when he was 12 years old.
In an interview with “Hockey Night in Canada” in February 1987, Bossy said he missed training time and was feeling the effects. “It really made me lose a lot of my time and a lot of my conditioning as well,” he said.
He scored 38 career low goals in 63 games in the 1986-87 season and retired after missing the entire 1987-88 season, having played his last game at the age of 30.
Bossi finished with 573 goals and 553 assists in 752 regular season games. He scored 210 minutes of penalty kicks in his 10 seasons and won three times the Lady Byng Trophy for noble play.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 – in the same category as Botvin – and the islanders retired at number 22 in 1992.
On the night of his retirement, Botvin imagined the conversation between Tori and coach Al Arbor on draft day in 1977: “Should we recruit a guy who can check, or that skinny 20-year-old boy from Laval who can’t check a suitcase?”
Then Botvin added, “Thank you, Al!”
Newsday’s Joe Jergen took the opportunity to recall the impact of Bose’s arrival on the already good team, writing, “For the islanders, it was the last piece in the puzzle, a diamond in a solid gold setting. With him in the squad, the team became not only a threat, but an attraction.”
In a 2020 interview with Newsday’s “Island Ice” podcast, Bossy urged fans to avoid comparisons to him and other historic scorers like Ovechkin.
“You can’t compare Maurice Richard, Mike Posey, Alex Ovechkin, and Conor McDavid,” he said. “You can’t compare these guys. Why don’t we say we’re going to put players into their own categories?”
In 2020, NHL.com named Posey as the second-best right winger of the expansion era, only behind Jaromir Jäger and one spot ahead of Jay Laveleur, the Canadian great often compared to Posey.
Bossy held a variety of jobs in business and media after his retirement, including working as a radio personality for a French-language station in Montreal.
In 2006, The Islanders appointed him to their front office as their Corporate Relations Executive, tasked with helping to nurture and develop fans.
He worked as an analyst for MSG Networks in 2014-15, then joined TVA Sports, a French channel in Canada.
On October 16, 2021, he announced that he was taking time off from TVA due to lung cancer treatment.
Bossi wrote in French, as translated by Google, “Today, it is with great sadness that I must retire from your screens to take a mandatory break, a necessary respite during which I will have to receive treatment for lung cancer.
“I can assure you that I intend to fight with all the determination and with all the enthusiasm I have seen on the ice and in my game.”
In his Players’ Tribune article, Bossy wrote that he regretted his lack of recollection of the cup race, calling it an overwhelming haze.
“What I remember is Brian with the trophy,” he wrote. “I have a vivid memory of him going all the way to the monkey- [expletive] He races around the ice with the trophy above his head at the Nassau Coliseum. I could see him standing on the bench with her, inciting the crowd. I can see him jump on Billy Smith after we won our fourth cup in a row.
“My advice to you, boy, is to remember more. And cherish your time more, because your time will be shorter than you think.”