Mullen, Joseph ("Joey")

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MULLEN, Joseph ("Joey")

(b. 26 February 1957 in New York City), hockey player who overcame major obstacles to emerge as the all-time U.S. leading scorer with 502 goals and 1,063 points and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.

Mullen, the son of Tom and Marion Mullen, was raised in a tenement in the Hell's Kitchen area of New York City. Since the family could not afford expensive ice hockey equipment, his father, who worked at the old Madison Square Garden, brought home discarded hockey sticks for Mullen and his brother. Mullen learned to stickhandle, wearing clamp-on roller skates in a schoolyard on West Fiftieth Street, and finally received his first pair of ice skates at age ten.

Mullen played for four years in the New York Metro Junior Hockey League, earning recognition as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 1974–1975 season. After graduating from the High School of Art and Design in 1975, he attended Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, where he became a standout goal scorer, earning Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) First All-Star Team and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) First Team All-America honors in both his junior and senior years. As a junior Mullen helped lead the Eagles to the 1978 NCAA championship against Boston University. One of his more memorable performances came earlier that season against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the first game of the ECAC tournament, when he scored the tying goal and then the winning goal in overtime.

Mullen graduated from Boston College in 1979, and the same year played on the U.S. team at the World Championships in Moscow, scoring eight points in eight games. While he was one of a handful of players highly coveted by Herb Brooks for the 1980 Olympic team, Mullen opted for professional hockey and its sizable paychecks in order to help his father, who was seriously ill. In August 1979 he signed with the St. Louis Blues. The Blues sent him to their Central Hockey League (CHL) Salt Lake City, Utah, affiliate, the Golden Eagles, where he played for two seasons, joining the big club mostly for postseason action. For his forty-goal performance at Salt Lake during the 1979–1980 season, Mullen earned the McKenzie Trophy as the CHL's top rookie and was thrown into play-off action with the Blues for one game. The next year he followed that performance with a league-leading 117-point season, which made him the clear choice for the Tommy Ivan Trophy as the league's MVP.

In the 1982–1983 season the tough little right winger began his long and prolific National Hockey League (NHL) career. Through four and one-half seasons in St. Louis, Mullen averaged better than one point per game. In February 1986 the Blues sent him to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, as part of a six-player blockbuster deal. It was with the Flames that he enjoyed his most productive years. His best season ever was 1988–1989 when, while helping the Flames to their first Stanley Cup triumph, Mullen led the league in plus-minus (plusses given for points scored at even-strength or short-handed in man power, minuses for goals-against at even strength or one man up), won the Lady Byng Trophy, was named to the NHL First All-Star Team, and led all play-off scorers with twelve goals.

In June 1990 the Flames surprisingly dealt him to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a second-round draft pick in the 1990 entry draft. The move to western Pennsylvania worked out well for the New York City native, who saw his name inscribed on Lord Stanley's cup after each of the next two seasons. On 7 February 1995 Mullen made hockey history by becoming the first American-born player to score 1,000 points in an NHL career, with an assist in a 7–3 victory over Florida, his 935th career game. Later in 1995 Mullen and his brother, Brian, a forward for the NHL New York Islanders, each won the Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding contributions to U.S. hockey.

In September 1995 Mullen signed as a free agent with the Boston Bruins. After an injury-riddled year in Boston, Mullen returned to Pittsburgh the following season to become the first American-born player to score five hundred goals. He retired at the season's end and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000. With 502 goals and 1,063 points, Mullen stands alone as the most prolific American-born goal scorer and point producer in NHL history.

For further information on Mullen see Kevin Hubbard and Stan Fischler, Hockey America (1997). See also James Duplacey, Joseph Romain, Stan Fischler, Morgan Hughes, and Shirley Fischler, Twentieth-Century Hockey Chronicle (1999), and Dan Diamond, Total Hockey: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Hockey League, 2d ed. (2000).

Stan Fischler

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Mullen, Joseph ("Joey")

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