Mike Bossi, the silent hero of the islanders who won the Stanley Cup, has died

Oh my God: Mike Bossy, after finishing his great hockey career, felt that the New York Islanders were underestimated. Who could say?

Barefoot, who died Friday at age 65, was irreplaceable artist – as they say in his native Quebec – from the greatest team I have ever covered: so many great players and mentalities that succeeded, game after game.

In an unforgettable final round for the Stanley Cup in 1982, I witnessed Bossi scoring a winning goal during the match in the first match, and in the third match, in Vancouver, he was sent to fly by his antagonist Tiger Williams, only to score a goal. while in the air. Incomparable.

However, Bossi once told Sports Illustrated that he believes the islanders are not appreciated.

Just because the islanders played in a gloomy barn in the flat suburbs of Long Island?

Just because the Islanders were a frugal and restrained organization that treated the Stanley Cup finals much like another home game?

Just because the rival and underproducer Rangers got more attention as he slipped out of Manhattan’s water holes long after a game?

Just because the Edmonton Oilers had the mystique and – fairly enough – the willow goal scorer nicknamed the “Great Greek?”

Barefoot was a pale, quiet presence on the ice, and also in a stuffy locker room, with his cigarette after the game. (I have often mentioned this harmful presence; I think of him now that he has died of lung cancer.)

Athletic geniuses are not necessarily the favorite guys for reporters looking for information after winning or losing. But Bossi was as decent as they were, eager to address the state of the club. And it was a great club for human beings – the zealous Bob Nistrom, the shrewd Bob Bourne, the joking hard man Clark Gillis, the stand-up Dennis Potwin and the bilingual Swedes Anders Kalur and Stefan Persson. Invaluable? Not by moi

I still think of them as The Boys of Winter, a paraphrase of Roger Kahn’s homage to Brooklyn Dodgers – “The Boys of Summer.” Such memorable characters, including the dead Al Arbor, gleaming behind his glasses, the bully behind the bench, teasing the players who might take him.

Despotic? Arbor told him to come out and score goals. This is how you treat a resident artist.

Barefoot had the touch. He developed it on a flooded slide in his family’s backyard in Montreal. (My friend loves hockey artist mine, Pierre Larusch from Quebec, talks about hearing – hearing – the speed and direction of the washer moving on a frozen pond long after sunset. Follow the sound.)

When Bossi came out with the Islanders in 1977-78, he was soon paired with two allies who formed a unit that would last a decade. Hockey lines – erasing for a quick minute or two and then approaching the bench to regain energy – are unlike any other team on the sport.

Barefoot was paired with Gillis, who could score and defend, as well as win poutine from an annoying opponent and Brian Trotier, a two-sided artist – goal scorer and passer, plus a cold-blooded killer. Trotie and his friend Bossi were friends, so different in style and temperament that they complemented each other wonderfully.

Sometimes artists just win games. It has been four decades since the Vancouver Canucks came to Long Island to open the Stanley Cup final series.

Within the dirty confines of the Colosseum in Nassau, Canucks battled the home team for extra time in the first leg, and an experienced defender, Harold Snaps, controlled the puck. Snepsts saw an open lane and tossed the puck aside – the rebellious Tiger Williams claims he called on his teammate to hold the puck – but Mike Bossy, instinct and experience, emerged from the shadows and icy glare, intercepted the pass and once for the goal of sudden death.

The Islanders won the second game and both teams flew across the continent. In the third game, Williams threw himself in front of the home fans, squeezing Bossi’s muscles when he could. But Bossi managed to follow in the shot, while almost horizontally over the ice, for a goal and the islanders won the third match, and the fourth – artist on top of your skills.

Two years later, the Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cups and faced the growing Oilers. The teams split the first two games on Long Island and then returned to the province of Alberta for three consecutive games there. The Islanders seemed to be skating on the surface of the Slarpy, their main players going through the equivalent of an extra season of grueling hockey for the Stanley Cup, and the Islanders did not win a game in Edmonton. The run is over.

Now the islanders had to talk or not talk about dethronement. The following paragraphs give an idea of ​​what kind of person Mike Bossi was:

“This is the most frustrating thing I’ve ever experienced in my career,” Bossi said. “There has always been a feeling that we can overcome our failures. We were even on the edge earlier this year. But you never feel it will happen. It’s a devastating feeling. “

Asked if he had noticed the young Oilers race for the mid-ice celebration in seconds, Bossi showed the empathy we had come to expect: “It reminded me of when we first won the Cup. The feeling of “We finally won it”. I could feel that in them. “

We tried to speculate that the islanders may have skated in hockey age after losing the Cup for the first time and facing the changes that were probably inevitable.

“I love everyone on this team,” Bossi said. “It’s depressing to think that some of them may not be here. You hate to see guys with whom you’ve had emotionally good times. But it depends on the organization. “

Bossi was asked if it helped to understand that the islanders were dethroned by a good team, not the lucky one. He said: “They are a good team, no doubt, but it doesn’t help much.”

He finished three more seasons, a little cautiously, on a tough body that had been hit and knocked down too often. He left behind great statistics and became a humorous commentator in French and English on hockey and life itself. When he returned to Long Island, he was as approachable as ever.

Were the Islanders – and Mike Bossi – underestimated at the highest level of their sport? Not here.

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