Saturday, April 2, 2011
Joe Mullen, one of the best kept secrets in hockey history, attended Boston College for four years and, after finishing his college career, immediately played for the United States in the 1979 World Championships where he scored seven goals in eight games.
Boston College Eagles captain Joe Mullen
Rather than playing for the United States at the 1980 Olympics, Mullen turned professional when he signed a contract with the St. Louis Blues due to his father's illness and subsequent financial needs of the family, causing him to miss being a part of the "Miracle on Ice".
St. Louis assigned Mullen to the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the CHL, where he was named the league's Rookie of the Year. The following season with the Golden Eagles, he would win the league scoring title.
In 1981-82 Mullen would see 45 games in the NHL and score 59 points. After another partial season in 1982-83, Mullen would stick full time with the Blues and rewarded them with his first 40 goal season, scoring 41 goals and 85 points. The next season would see another 40 goals and hit 92 points.
Inexplicably, St. Louis would trade Mullen halfway through the 1985-86 season, along with Terry Johnson and Rik Wilson to the Calgary Flames for Ed Beers, Charles Bourgeois and Gino Cavallini.
Not breaking stride, Mullen would total a career high 44 goals that season split between the two clubs. He would top that with 47 goals the next season as he led the Flames in scoring with 87 points, along with winning the Lady Byng Trophy, and 40 more goals the year after. The Flames would put it all together in 1988-89, as Mullen would score a career high 51 goals, along with 59 assists for a career best 110 points and his second Lady Byng Trophy.
Following a remarkable game in Flames history on March 21, 1989, Mullen celebrates his 50th goal of the season, as does Joe Nieuwendyk, while Lanny McDonald smiles after reaching both 500 goals and 1,000 points, all during the same game
During the final game of the season, played on this date in 1989, Mullen scored a goal and picked up a pair of assists in a 4-2 Flames win over the Edmonton Oilers. The three points Mullen scored that night set a new NHL record for most points in a season by an American born player, breaking the mark of 107 set by Jimmy Carson of the Los Angeles King the previous season.
Mullen and the Flames would finish the season by capturing the Stanley Cup after narrowly defeating the Vancouver Canucks in overtime of Game 7 in round 1 prior to sweeping the Kings in four and eliminating the Chicago Blackhawks in five before defeating the Montreal Canadiens in six games in the last Stanley Cup Final played between two Canadians teams, becoming the only team to ever win the cup against the Canadiens at the Montreal Forum in it's 71 year history.
After another 36 goal season in 1989-90, Mullen would be traded again, this time to the Pittsburgh Penguins prior to the 1990-91 season for a second round draft pick. The timing couldn't have been better for Mullen. Although he would only play in 47 regular season games due to injuries, his 17 points in 22 playoff games would help the Penguins capture their first Stanley Cup.
He would return to form with 42 goals in 1991-92 and Pittsburgh would again capture the Stanley Cup, the third of Mullen's career.
Two more 70 point seasons would follow before he was limited to 45 games in 1994-95 but did score the 1000th point of his career on February 7th in Pittsburgh, the 42nd player to reach 1000 points and the first American to do so.
He would sign as a free agent with the Boston Bruins for the 1995-96 season and play in 37 games, scoring 8 goals. After the season, Mullen would be named the 1995 winner of the Lester Patrick Trophy.
Mullen would return to Pittsburgh for his final NHL season. With just ten games remaining in the season, Mullen would score the 500th goal of his career, only the 25th player and first American to ever reach that hallowed milestone.
Internationally, despite missing out on the 1980 Olympics, Mullen would suit up for the United States during the 1984, 1987 and 1992 Canada Cup tournaments. After having retired from hockey in 1997, He would return one more time at age 42 to play for the United States in a qualifying tournament for the 1999 World Championships.
Mullen woud be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.
Today's featured jersey is a 1988-89 Calgary Flames Joe Mullen jersey as he wore in when he became the highest scoring American-born player in NHL history at home against the Edmonton Oilers.
Calgary would continue to wear this style jersey through the 1993-94 season until it was replaced after 22 seasons of use, which included a change in logo after the franchise's relocation from Atlanta to Calgary.
With absolutely no highlights dedicated to Joe Mullen on youtube, the best we can offer are these videos of Mullen winning the Stanley Cup, first with the Calgary Flames in 1989 followed by the Penguins winning Game 6 to capture the 1991 Stanley Cup, which includes Mullen scoring a pair of the many Penguins goals and assisting on the one by Ron Francis.