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Mike Commito The Hockey Writers

Published on Saturday, April 1, 2017





50 in 50 for Mike Bossy

On this date, April 1, 1978, New York Islander and future Hockey Hall of Fame member Mike Bossy became the first NHL rookie to score 50 goals in a season. Bossy went on to score 60 or more goals five times during his career, and his nine consecutive 50-goal seasons are still an NHL record. 

“A lot of times, players look up at the clock and say to themselves, ‘Well, it’s too late to score,'” Islanders general manager Bill Torrey said. “It was never, ever too late for Mike Bossy to score.” (Courtesy

In honor of his rookie season record we have pulled this nugget from the The Hockey Writers Archives. Written by former THW contributor Mike Commito and originally published Jan. 24, 2015.

On January 24, 1981, New York Islanders’ winger Mike Bossy became the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in the first 50 games of a season. The original feat was accomplished by Maurice “the Rocket” Richard, thirty-six years earlier, in the 1944-1945 season.

Heading into his fiftieth game at the Nassau Coliseum on 24 January 1981, Bossy had already racked up 48 goals in his previous 49 games. If he wanted to enshrine himself into National Hockey League lore, Bossy needed to pot two against the Quebec Nordiques that evening. For most of the game, it looked as though Bossy would fall short but nearing the final five minute mark, he picked up his forty-ninth tally.

Then, with just 89 seconds remaining, Bossy got a pass from Brian Trottier and from the left faceoff circle, wired his 50th goal past Ron Grahame. New York’s 7-4 triumph over Quebec was, rightfully, overshadowed by Bossy’s historic outing.

Bossy finished the season with 68 goals in 79 games and the Islanders went on to capture their second of four consecutive Stanley Cups. As an Islander, Bossy added five more 50+ goal seasons, including three that reached the 60-goal mark. He remains the most prolific goal scorer in Islanders history with 573 goals in 752 games.

The 50 in 50 Club

While Maurice Richard had thirty-six years to bask in his accomplishment, Bossy’s incredible season was eclipsed less than a year later when Wayne Gretzky scored 50 goals in 39 games. The “Great One” performed the feat two more times, scoring 50 goals in 42 games in the 1983-1984 season and 50 in 49 the following year. Since Gretzky, only two other players have achieved this feat. Mario Lemieux went 50 for 50 in the 1988-1989 season and Brett Hull did it twice, in back to back seasons from 1990 to 1992. Hull is actually the most recent player to reach this milestone, having scored his 50th goal against Los Angeles Kings goaltender Kelly Hrudey on 28 January 1992.

Modern 50 in 50

Will we ever see another 50 in 50? Given the maturation of the game, particularly in net and with defensive systems, it seems unlikely that we’ll see another 50 in 50 performance. While this type of offensive outing in a player’s first fifty games is improbable in the modern NHL, 50 goal seasons still give players and fans plenty of reason to celebrate. Since the 2004-2005 lockout (with the exception of the 2012-2013 shortened season), eleven different players have combined for eighteen 50 goal seasons. Below is a list of all the players that have scored 50 goals in the regular season dating back to 2005. Of the active NHLers on this list, Alex Ovechkin has had the most 50 goal seasons, at 5. Do you think there is a chance that anyone records a 50 in 50 in the twenty-first century? If so, who’s your money on?

50 Goal Seasons Post-Lockout

2005-2006 Season

Jonathan Cheechoo (San Jose) 56 goals

Jaromir Jagr (New York Rangers) 54 goals

Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 52 goals

Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers) 52 goals

Dany Heatley (Ottawa Senators) 50 goals

2006-2007 Season

Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay Lightning) 52 goals

Dany Heatley (Ottawa Senators) 50 goals

2007-2008 Season

Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 65 goals

Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers) 52 goals

Jarome Iginla (Calgary Flames) 50 goals

2008-2009 Season

Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 56 goals

2009-2010 Season

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) 51 goals

Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning) 51 goals

Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 50 goals

2010-2011 Season

Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks) 50 goals

2011-2012 Season

Steve Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning) 60 goals

Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) 50 goals

2012-2013 Season *Lockout shortened*

Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 32 goals [on pace for 55 goals in an 82 game season]

2013-2014 Season

Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 51 goals

2014-2015 Season

Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 53 goals

2015-2016 Season

Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 50 goals

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