This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
New York Islanders
1. Mike Bossy (958)
2. Denis Potvin (339)
3. Bryan Trottier (314)
4. Billy Smith (129)
5. John Tavares (115)
6. Pat Lafontaine (84)
In a lot of cases, the votes for the greatest player in a team’s history end up being fairly obvious. New York Islanders fans had some fantastic players to choose from based on the dynastic 1980’s group that brought home a staggering four straight Stanley Cups, but in the end, Mike Bossy won by a large margin.
Seriously, though, that era produced some fantastic choices. Denis Potvin won three Norris Trophies and became the first defenseman to cross the 1,000-point plateau. Bryan Trottier won a Hart, Conn Smythe and Art Ross Trophy while distinguishing himself for his all-around play and all-around amazing mustache. Billy Smith was the first goalie to score a goal and also used his stick as a weapon when the mood struck.
Bossy ultimately stood tallest even if he was limited to 752 regular season games. Simply put, he’s possibly the greatest sniper the game has ever seen, managing 573 goals in that span (and 85 in just 129 postseason contests). His .76 goal-per-game average edges Mario Lemieux for the best rate in NHL history and he scored 50+ goals in all but one of his 10 career seasons (he managed 38 despite being limited to 63 games played in 1986-87, his final campaign).
He finished his career with a ridiculous 21.2 shooting percentage, too.
Considering all that, it’s not too surprising that he’s part of the “50 goals in 50 games” club.
A decade from now, John Tavares might creep up on some of the names above him, but it’s difficult to imagine him eclipsing No. 22.