Q & A: Hall of Famer Mike Bossy talks about Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos
Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos, with 58 goals, needs two in his last three games to reach 60. If he does, he will be just the second player in 15 seasons to reach the mark and the first since Washington's Alex Ovechkin scored 65 in 2007-08.
Hall of Fame coach Scott Bowman, a Sarasota resident who attends almost all Lightning home games, said the best comparison to Stamkos is former Islanders great Mike Bossy, who had five 60-goal seasons in a 10-year career and scored fewer than 50 only once.
"The thing with Bossy is he was always thinking, 'How am I going to get open and get into scoring position?' Bowman said. "Stamkos does the same thing."
Bossy recently spoke with the Tampa Bay Times about his career and his impressions of Stamkos:
On Bowman's comparison to Stamkos: I haven’t see him play many complete games, but I’ve seen a lot of highlights and the highlights I see are of him scoring goals. I don’t really see his overall game on a consistent basis. I can tell you the comparison in one aspect is that he looks like he loves to score goals, and I’ve mentioned this about (Alex) Ovechkin in the past when asked the same sort of question as far as shooting and comparisons. Steven looks like he loves to score. He is someone that I notice is always looking for the open spot and always making himself available for a pass to get a shot away. And I basically played that way also. When you have the kind of shot that he does, you want to get into a position to get the puck and let that shot go.
On his impressions of Stamkos: Listen, he has progressed extremely well since he came into the league. Heck, I remember when he came into the league and the difficulties that he had during his first season, and I’m not talking about difficulties he was having personally but I guess the turmoil during the first season. So he has adapted very well and, listen, on top of being an excellent player he looks like a nice guy. And I think that as someone who watches the game now, with athletes and everything you hear about them probably more so in the last 15 years, it’s extremely refreshing to see Steven’s name mentioned only after hockey games, so that’s a nice thing. He looks like he’s a real nice person, a nice kid and that goes along with his great talent on the ice. It's nice to see.
On Stamkos having said winning a championship is more important than individual honors: I would believe it as being sincere. Listen, my first year I scored 53 goals and my second year I scored 69 goals and we were eliminated from the playoffs before getting to the finals. I can understand what he’s saying. When I look back on my career now, as much as people know me for the consecutive 50-goal seasons and the number of goals I scored, I look more so at the four Stanley Cups I won. If your goal as a player is to be not only the best you can be but to be a champion, obviously, winning the Stanley Cup makes you a champion and makes you part of a championship effort. And until proved wrong, I believe him 100 percent when he says that. I went through the same thing. Yes, it’s fantastic to get the accolades and everything that comes with personal success, but the game is a team game as much as any of the other major sports are, so winning championships is what that’s about.
On his transformation as a player compared to Stamkos: It’s funny because I was drafted 15th because they said I couldn’t play defense, I wasn’t fast enough and I wasn’t physical enough. So, I went through my whole career, and especially the first three or four years, trying to show people, because I wanted to be the best I can be, trying to show people that, hey, I can play defense if I had to and I can pass the puck as well as anybody else and I may not have been a physical player but I went into the physical areas because you don’t score goals unless you get into the physical areas. Just by what he’s done, he's proved that he wants to be a great all-around player and not only the power play specialist or the guy who shoots the puck from the top of the faceoff circle. So, I guess in that area he reminds me a lot of myself. I see goals that he scores and he scores them from the dirty areas and he goes in the corners and makes great passes and he’s responsible defensively. That all comes with maturity. It took me a couple of years to understand personal success is great but team success is far more important. And for me personally, I didn’t want to be known as the guy who could only score goals. My favorite game in my NHL career was the game that I got six assists. I didn’t even score in the game. Those little things make anybody an all-around player. Some people don’t care. They’re a goal scorer and that’s what they do and the rest of it doesn’t really interest them. I don’t know what Steven thinks, and I’m not saying at the same time he can’t pass or play defense or play physical. I’m just saying he doesn’t seem to me that he’s a one-dimensional player.
On advice he would give Stamkos: The more your best players on any team lead by example the better it is, so it was important for me not only to score goals but to be responsible defensively and to make sure I got into the corners and went to the front of the net. The other players on the team feed off that, so as I got older leading by example was essential for me as an individual. So, if there was any advice I would give him it would be to just follow the kind of hockey player that he wants to be and never give up a shot. When you have a shot like he does, you never give up a shot. I’ve always said, and I said it at the end of my career, goal scorers have to be selfish in an unselfish way. What I meant by that is as a goal scorer, you’re really not allowed to give up an opportunity to score because it’s, in a sense, being selfish because you’re not getting a goal for your team, and scoring goals is what helps your team win.