“HALL OF FAME PAIR BOSSY AND TROTTIER FEATURED SPEAKERS AT ‘OFF THE LEASH LUNCHEON’”

By P .J. Kennedy

On Thursday,  17 October former National Hockey League scoring legends and members of the Hockey Hall of Fame Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier will be the featured speakers at the fifth annual “Off The Leash Luncheon” held to support the Huskie Men’s Hockey Team.  Since 2009,  “Off The Leash” has brought to Saskatoon  popular former NHL performers  Wendel Clark,  Brett Hull, Jeremy Roenick, and Paul Coffey. The appearance of lifetime New York Islander Mike Bossy and fellow former Islander Bryan Trottier continues the tradition of providing members of the community with the opportunity to hear up close former NHL standout performers.

The most prolific scorer in Islanders’ history, Mike Bossy’s prowess with the puck was evident at an early age. At  sixteen, he entered the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Laval Nationals in 1972-73. In little over four years he notched an incredible 309 goals in only 263 regular season games.  His best junior season was 1974-75 when he potted 84 goals in 66 games.  According to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s “Legends of the Game,” despite playing through an aggressive junior career that saw his nose broken and teeth knocked out, the Montreal born and raised  winger “was considered a timid player by NHL scouts” and was not picked until number 15 in the first round by the Islanders.

In his first NHL season he deposited 53 goals and added 38 assists in 73 games to capture the Calder Memorial Trophy as Rookie of the Year.  Although he was forced to retire at the age of 30 from the NHL because of chronic back problems, he had an outstanding career which featured being named to eight NHL All-Star teams, being league goal-scoring leader twice (1978-79 and 1980-81), and receiving the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for combining superior accomplishments on the ice with fair play a total of three times (1982-83 through 1985-86). He was also named the Stanley Cup playoffs’ outstanding player in 1982 capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy. 

 Perhaps the most important NHL legacy of Mike Bossy is his role as an integral part of the four consecutive Stanley Cups won by the New York Islanders from 1980 through 1983.  His contributions to his team’s success throughout his career are reflected in his lifetime statistics which include being number 20 on the all-time NHL goal-scoring list with 573. He accounted for a total of 1126 points in only 752 games for an astonishing rate of 1.497 points per game which among the top 60 NHL players lifetime is third only to Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. His goals per game average of .762  is number one among all the league’s top players. He  proved many of the scouts wrong as he fashioned a stellar 10 year NHL career that featured nine consecutive 50 goal seasons including five where he scored over 60. 

Following his retirement in 1987,  he operated  a restaurant in Montreal, did colour for Quebec Nordiques telecasts (1988-90), did a morning radio show in Montreal for several years, and worked for a snack food company rising to the position of sales director.  He also played himself in one of the films of the whimsical Quebec-produced movie franchise les Boys. In 2006 he returned to his hockey home being named to the sponsor and fan development department and is currently vice president of corporate sponsorship and partnership marketing for  the New York Islanders.

Bryan Trottier was born in 1956 at Val Marie and played his first junior season at age sixteen with Swift Current Broncos.  In three junior seasons with Broncos at Swift Current and then with the relocated Lethbridge Broncos, he notched 103 goals and collected 198 assists for 301 points in only 202 games. Drafted as an underage player the previous year, by the New York Islanders,  he was named Western Canadian Hockey League  Most Valuable Player in 1974-75.

In his NHL debut season in 1975-76, he had 92 points in 80 games and captured the Calder Memorial Trophy as Rookie-of-the-Year.  In subsequent years he won the Hart Trophy as Most Valuable Player and Art Ross Trophy as leading scorer (both in 1978-79) as well as the King Clancy Trophy (1988-89) and Conn Smythe Trophy (1979-80).  Described by the Hockey Hall of Fame’s  “Legends of the Game” as a two-way player who was a “throwback [to] old fashioned attributes…as a defensively sound centreman with the vision and instincts of a pure scorer.”  During his eighteen year NHL tenure as a player, Bryan Trottier was named to four NHL year end all-star teams and performed in eight all-star games. Like Bossy, he was also an integral part of four consecutive New York Islander Stanley Cup wins (1980-83). The former Saskatchewanian also captured two Stanley Cup championships as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  As an assistant coach with Colorado Avalanche in 2002 he again had his name inscribed on the Stanley Cup.

Bryan Trottier, considered by some as the best all-around centre of his era, had regular season statistics that saw him named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997.  Also a member of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame, “Trots” had 524 goals, 901 assists, and 1425 points in 1279 NHL games.  He represented Canada at World Junior championships in 1974-75 and at Canada Cup in 1981. Trottier played for Team USA in the 1984 Canada Cup as well.

He retired from the Penguins after the 1991-92 season, but returned with Pittsburgh as a player-assistant coach in 1993-94. His coaching career included bench boss duties in the American Hockey League and as an assistant in Pittsburgh and with Colorado in the NHL as well as  a brief stint ((2002-2003) as head coach of the New York Rangers.  He returned to the Islanders as Executive Director of Player Development in 2006.

Bryan Trottier continues to be active in the game as he operates the Bryan Trottier Summer Hockey Camp in Alberta as well as provides instructional sessions on hockey throughout North America. The Hall of Famer also continues to skate with NHL alumni teams.

Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier will forever be associated with the New York Islanders dynasty that captured four Stanley Cups from 1980 through 1983. Championship linemates when they played, they are reunited for their visit to Saskatoon on Thursday, 17 October  at 11:30 a.m. when Saskatoon hockey fans will have the opportunity to see and hear two of hockey’s greatest players at the “Off The Leash Luncheon” to be held at  Prairieland Exhibition.  Returning to be Master of Ceremonies, will be Saskatchewan comedian Kelly Taylor. Tickets are available from  Picatic.

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