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Mike Bossy's solution for how to retire future Islanders jersey numbers

Islanders legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Mike

Islanders legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Bossy is honored before a game between the Islanders and the Bruins at Nassau Coliseum on Jan. 29, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

December’s news that the Islanders will retire John Tonelli’s No. 27 and Butch Goring’s No. 91 in February thrilled Mike Bossy. Eight of the 16 players who won four Stanley Cups with the team from 1980-83 will have banners.

But don’t ask the Hall of Famer, whose No. 22 went to the rafters on March 3, 1992, if the team should retire any others.

“That’s a tough question to ask me,” Bossy said in an interview with Newsday on Monday. “The more you retire, the more you have to retire. You start going down the list. I’d love to have Bob Bourne have his jersey retired but then, why doesn’t Stefan Persson have his, or Kenny Morrow have his jersey retired?”

Bossy does have a solution.

“There were 16 players who won four Stanley Cups,” he said. “There should be one huge jersey with all 16 players on it.”

Bossy said Tonelli and Goring each made a unique contribution to the Islanders’ dynasty.

“I was happy for them. They were a huge part of our success winning the four Stanley Cups,” he said. “In each of their own way, they were essential, and in each of their own way, they were great players.

“JT was a great power forward. There was nobody better than him kicking and scratching and clawing to get the puck out of the corner. And he scored a lot of big goals for us.

“Butchie was the last piece to the puzzle. He came in and provided a lot of second-line work. Good power-play work. Great on the penalty kill. He was a little buzzsaw out there.”

The retirement ceremonies for Tonelli and Goring will be held on Feb. 21 and Feb. 29, respectively, at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders expect to open their new arena at Belmont Park in October 2021. Bossy said that will be a huge moment for the franchise, which now splits home games between the Coliseum and Barclays Center.

“For the fans, it’s ‘Holy cow, we know where we can go for 41 games,’  ” Bossy said. “To ownership, it means they can start attracting players that don’t want to play in two different rinks. You play in enough rinks when you’re on the road, let alone play in two when you’re at home. For the players here already, it makes it an interesting place to stay.”


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