On January 24, 1981, Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders scores his 50th goal in the first 50 games of the season, becoming only the second player in National Hockey League (NHL) history to achieve this mark.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, Bossy made his NHL debut with the Islanders in 1977, scoring a record 53 goals during his first season to win the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year. He became the first player in the history of the NHL to score at least 50 goals in nine consecutive seasons, helping lead the Islanders to four straight Stanley Cup championships from 1980 to 1983. During the 1981-82 season, Bossy also added 83 assists, an NHL record for a right wing.
Bossy’s most significant achievement on the ice, however, was matching Maurice (Rocket) Richard’s feat of 50 goals in 50 games, which Richard accomplished with the Montreal Canadiens during the 1944-45 season. Bossy scored his historic goal at home, at Nassau Coliseum in New York, during a game against the Quebec Nordiques. Heavily covered by the Nordiques, Bossy didn’t even get a shot on goal in the first two periods, and by the middle of the third the score was tied, 4-4. Finally, during a power play, Bossy got the puck on his backhand side and flipped it past Quebec’s Ron Grahame at 15:50 for his 49th goal of the season. At 18:31, Bossy shot a perfect pass from Bryan Trottier from the left face-off circle, beating Grahame again for goal number 50.
Bedlam erupted in the Coliseum. Bossy’s goal was decisive, but his individual accomplishment overshadowed the overall result, a 7-4 victory for the Islanders. Bossy went on to score at least 50 goals in five more seasons, but never in fewer than 60 games. He retired in 1987 at the age of 30, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.