Richard Sévigny remembers very well the first time he saw Mike Bossy coming in front of him.
Posted at 8:00 am
“It wasn’t even in the National League or the juniors… it was in the Pee-wee AA! replies the Canadian’s former goalkeeper. We were both very young and you could see Mike’s talent just by peeing. Even at that age he could find fault with a goalkeeper…”
Finding the flaw was something Mike Bossy understood very well in his short but meaningful career in hockey history. From 1977 to 1987, the famous forward scored a total of 573 NHL goals, and often in the same way: by firing a shot that didn’t give the poor goalie in front of him a chance.
Exactly what was it like to see a young bossy charge across the wing, gain momentum and shoot? We asked four former NHL goalies who played him to describe the Bossy magic from their perspective.
Denis Herron (Pittsburgh Penguins, Kansas City Scouts, Montreal Canadiens)
“When Mike came into the NHL [en 1977-1978], I had been in the league for a couple of years and had no idea who he was…well I found out pretty quickly! I remember he used to play with a full trio, supplemented by Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies. These guys were great players, but as a goaltender I couldn’t take my eyes off Mike for a moment on the ice. I always had to know where he was, even though the other two were very good too. The challenge when I played against him was that I had to be ready at all times because he could shoot the moment he saw the smallest opening. If I left a few inches in the corner of the net, he would place the puck right there! He had a lively and accurate throw, and you didn’t see that very often in those years. I remember maybe three or four players who could throw that fast and with that accuracy… and he was one of them. »
Richard Sévigny (Montreal Canadians, Quebec Nordiques)
“To do what he did, which was 9 straight seasons with at least 50 goals, he had to be a natural goalscorer. I remember when we were juniors we often tried to intimidate him; I played at Sherbrooke and coach Ghislain Delage told the lads that Mike needed a shake. He clearly had a goal on his back…Mike got mixed up in junior class almost every night, but hats off, he got through that…Then I saw him back in the National League and I was with the Canadian as he made it through his 50th season Goals in 50 games [en 1980-1981]. I can’t remember a specific game but he must have scored a few against me! When we played against him, the goalkeeper, we knew that he would find our weakness, it was inevitable. A goalkeeper has to be careful when facing an opponent like him, but the problem when we’re careful is that we start playing on our heels and playing less naturally. And Mike took advantage of that because he could place the puck anywhere. »
Steve Penney (Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets)
“I remember him especially because of the conference finals I played with the Canadiens against the New York Islanders in the spring of 1984… Going against Mike Bossy as a goaltender was another thing. Normally you could look at a player and predict where he was going to try to throw, but with Mike that wasn’t possible! It was impossible because you could see the puck on his racquet and by the time you saw it the puck had already gone his way because Mike had pulled so fast. But what I remember most when I think back to him is that he had a tough throw, a tough throw. In the past, goalkeepers’ equipment wasn’t the same as it is today, so his shots hurt, even if we didn’t really notice it in a game full of energy and adrenaline. But only by getting his shots could one understand that he must have spent hours and hours practicing that shot when he was younger. »
Glenn “Chico” Resch (New York Islanders, Colorado Rockies, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers)
“Before the advent of masks, goalkeepers would stand up, cover their faces and scoot to the side with both pads. When Mike arrived in the late 1970s, goalies wore masks and began practicing the butterfly style. But coaches still advised players to throw deep into the corners. I noticed that Mike often hit between the pads with a shot. He said to me: “I know that the goalkeeper keeps his pads in the basic position, but as soon as I start my shot, he starts to spread his legs.” He scored so many goals… Some players cheat the keeper the way they shoot because the puck doesn’t go the way you want it to. Mike, his movement was like a pendulum. He could work without warning. Also, Mike saw a 4 x 6 goal. When you do that, even now, it’s amazing how many pucks go through the goaltenders. He didn’t aim for corners. Lafleur was more predictable, but he could fire pellets. Mike was a sniper and could also score with the backhand. His unpredictability made him difficult to face. »
In collaboration with Guillaume Lefrançois, The press