The 1991 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Class was an exceptional group of four and brought closure to one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the National Hockey League. With their last playoff series win to date just two years away, the New York Islanders watched as two of their greatest became enshrined in the Hall.
Bossy’s establishment as probably the greatest hockey sniper actually started four years before he’d even played a game in the NHL. Mike played five years of junior hockey with Laval National in the QMJHL between 1972-73 and 1976-77. His first year consisted of just four games. However, his final four featured a non-stop flashing red light behind opponent’s nets.
In those four years, Bossy scored no less than 70 goals in a single season. He still owns, not only the QMJHL but, the Canadian Hockey League record for most career goals with 309 in just 264 regular season games.
Bossy was passed over by an incredible fourteen teams at the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft before the New York Islanders selected him fifteenth overall. That year, Dale McCourt of the OHL’s St. Catherines Fincups was the first overall pick, going to the Detroit Red Wings. All 18 first round picks played at least 80 games in the NHL. Mike was also taken in the fifth round of the WHA Amateur Draft that year, 44th overall by the Indianapolis Racers. One has to wonder just what would have happened if Bossy had gone the WHA route and played with Wayne Gretzky in 1978-79.
Mike’s NHL career was cut short at just ten seasons due to severe injuries. He played 752 regular season games between 1977-78 and 1986-87, all with the Islanders. He scored an amazing 573 goals and totalled 1,126 points. Bossy did not score less than 50 goals in each of his first nine seasons. He scored more than 60 in five of those. The lowest he finished in the NHL goal scoring race over those nine years was seventh. In the days before the Rocket Richard Trophy, Mike led the league twice.
Bossy was a Stanley Cup champion four times on Long Island. He was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1977-78 as the NHL’s rookie of the year.
Denis Potvin played parts of five years in the Ontario Hockey League (at the time OHA) with the Ottawa 67’s from 1967-68 to 1972-73. In his final year with Ottawa, the defenseman totalled a whopping 123 points in just 61 games, placing him fifth in the race for the Eddie Powers Trophy.
The Islanders added another piece to the puzzle when they drafted Potvin first overall at the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft. Denis was one of four first round picks that year to go on to play over 1,000 games in the NHL. The other three were Lanny McDonald, Bob Gainey and Rick Middleton.
Potvin played 1,060 regular season games in the National Hockey League from 1973-74 to 1987-88, scoring 310 goals and totalling 1,052 points from the blue line. Like Mike Bossy, Denis was awarded the Calder Trophy in 1973-74. He won three Norris Trophies in the NHL as the league’s top defenseman. That silverware sits beside his two Max Kaminsky Trophies he earned as top defenseman in the OHL. Of course, Potvin was also part of the four-time Stanley Cup winning Islanders Dynasty of the early 1980’s.
Smith played 483 regular season games in the NHL between 1936-37 and 1946-47. He started his career with the New York Rangers and ended it with the Chicago Black Hawks. Clint was part of the 1939-40 Stanley Cup champion Rangers, the last winners from Manhattan until Mark Messier led the team to victory in 1993-94.
Clint was a member of the 1943-44 Chicago Black Hawks who, despite finished the regular season below .500, reached the Stanley Cup finals. The Hawks were no match for the Montreal Canadiens, however, being swept in the series, four games to none. Smith was a two Lady Byng Trophy winner who passed away in 2009 at the age of 95.
Like Clint Smith, Bob Pulford waited a considerable amount of time before entering the Hockey Hall of Fame. Pulford’s NHL playing career ended after the 1971-72 season before moving on to a lengthy career in coaching and management with the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Black Hawks.
Bob’s winning ways started in junior hockey with the Toronto Marlboros of the OHA. He played with the team from 1953-54 to 1955-56, helping them to consecutive Memorial Cup championships in his final two years. He would later win four Stanley Cup championships as a player with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1960’s.
Pulford played with Toronto from 1956-57 to 1969-70, followed by two years with the Los Angeles Kings, before retiring. He was captain of the Kings in his final year and ended his career playing 1,079 regular season games while scoring 281 goals and totalling 643 points.