Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders said yesterday he will skip this season to have therapy on his back. Bossy, 30, is suffering from abnormalities in the disks at the base of his spine. He has been bothered by the ailment since last season when he missed 17 games and had his record streak of consecutive 50-goal seasons end at nine.

The sharpshooting right wing emphasized he is not retiring. "As I am now, I'm not able to play," Bossy said. "I haven't even thought of the future. If the back gets better -- if and when it happens -- I will consider the options. I want to make it clear that Mike Bossy is not retiring. I'll approach the therapy with the hope of getting back to a normal way of living. I'd like to be able pick up my kids again."

Seventeen players changed teams during the NHL waiver draft yesterday, with Pittsburgh choosing Boston winger Charlie Simmer as a potential linemate for Mario Lemieux. Another Patrick Division team, New Jersey, made the most selections, three. The New York Rangers were the only club to lose the maximum of three off their roster.

Washington was the lone Patrick team not involved either way. "There was nothing really available that we wanted," said General Manager David Poile.

Buffalo made the first choice, Toronto winger Kevin Maguire, and then passed for two rounds. When Adams Division rival Boston picked tough guy Willi Plett from the Rangers, the Sabres responded by taking Ed Hospodar from Philadelphia. All of the Devils' picks were defensemen -- Chicago's Jack O'Callahan and two Finns, Reijo Ruotsalainen and Risto Siltanen, who are playing in Europe.

In separate waiver transactions, Los Angeles got center Paul Fenton from the Rangers and Edmonton took center Mark Lamb from Detroit.