50 in 50 for Mike Bossy

On Jan. 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, 36 years earlier, in the 1944-45 season.

Mike Bossy Joins the NHL 50-in-50 Club

Heading into his 50th game at the Nassau Coliseum on Jan. 24, 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 49th tally.

Substack Subscribe to the THW Daily and never miss the best of The Hockey Writers Banner

Then, with just 89 seconds remaining, Bossy got a pass from Bryan 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 36 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.

Mike Bossy 50 Goals 50 Games
Canadian hockey player Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders on the ice, February 1982. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

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.

Related: The NHL’s Exclusive 500 Goal Club

Latest News & Highlights

Since the 2004-05 lockout (with the exception of the 2012-13 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 21st century? If so, who’s your money on?

50 Goal Seasons Post-Lockout

2005-06 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

2006-07 Season
Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay Lightning) 52 goals
Dany Heatley (Ottawa Senators) 50 goals

2007-08 Season
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 65 goals
Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers) 52 goals
Jarome Iginla (Calgary Flames) 50 goals

2008-09 Season
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 56 goals

2009-10 Season
Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) 51 goals
Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning) 51 goals
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 50 goals

2010-11 Season
Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks) 50 goals

2011-12 Season
Steve Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning) 60 goals
Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) 50 goals

2012-13 Season *Lockout shortened*
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 32 goals [on pace for 55 goals in an 82 game season]

2013-14 Season
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 51 goals

2014-15 Season
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 53 goals

2015-16 Season
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 50 goals

2016-17 Season
Sidney Crosby led the NHL with only 44 goals

2017-18 Season
Alex Ovechkin led the NHL with only 49 goals

2018-19 Season
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 51 goals
Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers) 50 goals

2019-20 Season *COVID-19 pandemic shortened*
Alex Ovechkin led the NHL with only 48 goals

2021-22 Season
Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs) 60 goals
Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers) 55 goals
Chris Kreider (New York Rangers) 52 goals
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) 50 goals

originally published Jan. 24, 2015.

Sign up for our free ‘Islanders Substack Newsletter‘ for all the latest.

2 thoughts on “50 in 50 for Mike Bossy”

  1. Cam Neely got 50 goals in 44 games in ’93-’94, but not in the first 50 games of the season (he missed 35 games with a knee injury). 50 in 44 on a bum knee… not too shabby!!!

Comments are closed.