Once again, Islanders count on Bossy to score big

New York Islander Fan Central | 7/27/2007 02:51:00 PM | | |

Once again, Islanders count on Bossy to score big
By Ambrose Clancy
Friday, July 27, 2007

Long Island’s deadliest professional sniper has a group of businesspeople squarely in his sights.
In a stellar 10-year career, all-time New York Islanders great Mike Bossy – who never met a goaltender he couldn’t baffle and routinely broke the hearts of Rangers fans – helped hang four championship banners in Uniondale. Now, the National Hockey League Hall of Fame winger is lending his name and reputation to an effort to drum up business for the money-losing Nassau franchise.

If you want a Bossy-autographed hockey stick, it will run you about $520 through sports memorabilia giant Steiner Sports, where an autographed puck will cost about $90. But if you want an autographed skate, you can’t get it at any price. “I never signed skates,” the great shooter said.

But you can get one for free, if you’re one of the 100 lucky Long Island businesses that recently received an autographed skate and a letter from Bossy requesting a meeting to discuss Islander advertising opportunities. The skates have gone “to the top businesses on Long Island who currently don’t have a relationship with us,” said Islander spokesman Chris Botta, listing such Island powerhouses as Sbarro, Sleepy’s, Riverhead Building Supply and Harbor Footwear.
Bossy characterized the promotion “as a stab in the dark.”

“As an organization, we wanted to be aggressive to try and get these companies involved with the team,” he said. “I go on calls to try to develop relationships with the sponsors and do a ton of executive suite visits during the season.”

The franchise can use a money infusion. Since owner Charles Wang took over the Islanders during the 2000-01 season, the storied organization has hemorrhaged more than $20 million annually – even as the process toward creating a new arena grinds slowly on.
“We need the corporate support,” Botta said. “We’ve always been active in trying to tell them how the Islanders can help their businesses.”

The hope is that advertisers will buy a package that tops out at $100,000 and includes advertising on arena “dasher boards,” TV and radio spots and game programs for 41 regular-season home games, not to mention exhibition contests and potential playoff games, Botta said.
“The dasher boards will stay up for a lot other events at the Coliseum,” he added.

Bossy, who commutes to Long Island from his home in Quebec for about a week each month, is a strong asset. “He’s a good guy to have in meetings because he’s a conversation piece but he’s worked in the real world after he retired 20 years ago,” Botta said.

Bossy said he scheduled several meetings with various executives after the skates went out. “It’s an opportunity for us to meet with him and look at what opportunities are there,” noted Jason Lazar, vice president of Port Washington’s Harbor Footwear, adding that at the meeting they will discuss the nuts and bolts of a possible Islanders deal.

Bossy plans to remind prospective advertisers that “our team motto is ‘character, heart and grit,’” he said. “And I know a lot of businesses feel the same way about themselves.”