Bossy scores historic puck; Maloof brothers with the assist

It was around 7:30 in the morning, and a Maloof brother of Las Vegas was either just waking up or just getting in when he read on TMZ that Mike Bossy’s 50 goals in 50 games keepsake hockey puck was being auctioned off by someone not named Mike Bossy.

This would have been Gavin Maloof, who along with his brothers owned the NBA’s Sacramento Kings until a couple of years ago. Now the Maloof men (and sister Adrienne) are hoping to become minority owners of an NHL franchise in Las Vegas.

Gavin Maloof said it seemed only right they should bid on that keepsake hockey puck and return it to the great Mike Bossy. Brother Joe was consulted. Brother Joe agreed.

The Palms, which the Maloofs also had owned in a majority fashion, once had hosted an annual chicken dinner during which Lady Byng’s trophy and other hockey hardware was presented to gap-toothed ice skaters bearing sharp elbows.

Did the Maloof men know Mike Bossy? Not really. They had heard of him, though.

They learned he was only the second hockey player to have scored 50 goals in 50 games, joining the legendary Rocket Richard in 1981. (Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux would do it after Bossy, and Brett Hull would do it twice.)

Bossy was perhaps the best player on an Islanders team that won four straight Stanley Cups from 1979 through 1982, building a dynasty that resulted in seven of the Isles — including Bossy and coach Al Arbour, who died Friday — being inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame.

“I was just getting out of college then,” Gavin Maloof said.

Anyway, Gavin and Joe Maloof thought Mike Bossy should have that puck, because he was the one who scored those 50 goals in 50 games, and not his daughter’s swimming coach.

The story gets a little sketchy here, but Bossy’s daughter apparently wanted to give her coach something that belonged to her dad for teaching her how to swim the backstroke or whatever. So she gave him that puck. This was many years ago.

And the swimming coach either tried to return the puck to Bossy, and was rebuffed, or wanted something in return, and was rebuffed.

“There was some tension over the puck,” Gavin Maloof said.

But because the Maloofs don’t buy a lot of stuff on eBay, they didn’t have an account. So they had their guy J.J. set one up. J.J. — real name: Julian Jones, aka “Babysitter to the Stars,” according to a 2009 Wall Street Journal story — stayed up real late one night and kept bidding on Mike Bossy’s puck until he got it.

It was sort of like Elaine bidding on President Kennedy’s golf clubs on J. Peterman’s behalf in that one “Seinfeld” episode. The Maloofs wound up paying $6,850 for the puck, and so Julian Jones had to dig a little deeper in the sofa cushions.

After the puck stopped here (with an assist from Federal Express), the Islanders’ famous right winger was contacted.

“We’ve always been fan friendly,” Gavin Maloof said. “We thought it would be nice to return this puck to Mike Bossy. We told him we didn’t want anything.”

But to Bossy, this was a great assist; it was like Bryan Trottier or Clark Gillies delivering a tape-to-tape pass to him in the high slot against the Flyers. Bossy lit the red lamp as far as the Maloofs were concerned. He flew into Las Vegas from Montreal to pick up the puck in person.

Gavin Maloof showed the scorer of 573 NHL goals — who at age 58 looks almost the same as when he was sniping goals, except his hair is now gray — a scale model of the new hockey arena being jammed into the crease behind New York-New York and the Monte Carlo.

Bossy said Billy Smith and Denis Potvin and the other old Islanders — even John Tonelli — were going to like the new arena, or something to that effect. He and Gavin and J.J. posed for a photo with the keepsake puck. Dinner reservations were made at Botero at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas.

“He was just so appreciative; he couldn’t have been nicer. He said ‘I can’t believe you guys would do this’ ” Gavin Maloof said Tuesday, a few days after returning the keepsake puck to the great Mike Bossy.

It made for a pretty cool story.

It seems there’s always a story to tell when one or more of the Maloof brothers are around, as long as you’re not telling it to certain basketball fans in Sacramento seeking a new arena.

Gavin Maloof was talking on the telephone when he told the story about Mike Bossy’s hockey puck. He said he was coming from the doctor’s office after getting a Q-Tip stuck in his ear.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski

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