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Quebec Premier Francois Legault offers condolences to the family of New York Islanders legend and Hockey Hall of Famer, Mike Bossy, before funeral services on April 28, in Ste. Therese, Que.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Mike Bossy was a fighter who wanted to beat the cancer that eventually killed him, Quebec Premier François Legault said Thursday before attending the Hockey Hall of Famer’s funeral service north of Montreal.

Bossy, a leader of the New York Islanders’ Stanley Cup dynasty in the early 1980s, died April 14 of lung cancer at 65.

Legault told reporters at a ceremony in Ste-Therese, Que., north of Montreal, that he had developed a friendship with Bossy over the years.

Bossy, who helped the Islanders win the Cup four straight years from 1980-83, was a fighter, the premier said.

“When he found out he was sick, we talked and he said, I’m going to fight and I’m going to come back.”

Legault added that he loved to watch Bossy’s hockey analysis on television for TVA Sports.

Hundreds of fans, hockey personalities and journalists paid their last respects to Bossy at a viewing on Wednesday. Visitors were able to observe a floral arrangement in the form of a 22 — Bossy’s jersey number — and his Islanders jersey signed by several former NHL stars, including Maurice Richard, Guy Lafleur, Jean Béliveau and Gordie Howe.

Bossy earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1982. He scored the Cup-winning goal in 1982 and in 1983 — one of just two players to do so in back-to-back seasons.

Legault said public reaction to the deaths of Mike Bossy and Lafleur — who died of cancer last week — shows how hockey is able to unite Quebecers.

“We don’t just see it in Quebec; we see it everywhere. People are torn — they have been torn. Should we wear a mask or not?” Legault said about the divisions in society over the COVID-19 pandemic. “But hockey — everyone agrees, and it’s nice to see Quebeckers united behind Bossy, behind Lafleur. I hope it will inspire us for the future.”

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