BEHIND THE MOVES: Negotiating With Mike Bossy

Over the next couple weeks, Point Blank will be featuring excerpts from the book Behind the Moves: NHL General Mangers Tell How Winners are Built. The book is available at NHLGMs.com and features interviews with every living general manager who has won a Stanley Cup. Later in the spring, we’ll be giving away a limited edition copy signed by legendary Islanders GM Bill Torrey (stay tuned for details).

Today we present some excerpts from former Avalanche GM Pierre Lacroix and agent Don Baizley on Bill Torrey and how he handled negotiations with Mike Bossy.

Pierre Lacroix:

“Mike Bossy was the second guy I got involved with [as a player agent], and he was a first pick of the Islanders… I remember that Mike was a very determined person… Mike was involved in all the negotiation… Mike didn’t speak much, he was a pretty shy guy, but out of the blue in the coversation, he said, ‘Sir, I’m going to score 50 goals in the first year. If we were to accept [your offer], how about if we put a bonus for…’ Mike was a guy that had this unique goal, and I remember Bill saying ‘If you score 30, I’m going to be pleased, kiddo.” … [A]nd Mike said, ‘Oh, I know I’m going to make it. I know I’m going to do it.’ So Bill was kind of in shock, because it was not said with any kind of humor… I don’t remember the numbers, but he said, ‘I’ll give you a bonus of X dollars for every goal you score over 30.’ So Mike said, ‘Great!’ … and he scored 53 and he got a huge bonus. He was pretty happy and they were happy.”

Bossy would go on to score more than 50 goals in each of his first nine NHL seasons, including a career-high 69 goals in his second season, 1978-79.

Don Baizley:

“Before the days of NHL salary disclosure, when I was trying to establish a market price for Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg, I remember writing to Pierre Lacriox, who at the time was Mike Bossy’s agent, to ask him how much money Mike Bossy made. Pierre wrote back to say that he couldn’t tell me because Islanders GM Bill Torry had forced Mike and him to sign a confidentiality agreement when Mike signed his contract.”