Joseph Patrick Mullen (born February 26, 1957) is a retired American professional ice hockey player who played 17 seasons in the National Hockey League with the St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Boston Bruins from 1980–1997. He won three Stanley Cups: in 1989 with Calgary, and in1991 and 1992 with Pittsburgh. His brother Brian is also a former NHL player, and his son Patrick signed with the Los Angeles Kings after playing four seasons for the University of Denver in the WCHA. His other son Michael is playing professional hockey, and his oldest son Ryan played ACHA hockey atRobert Morris University. Joe and wife Linda have four children: sons Ryan, Michael and Patrick, and daughter Erin.
Mullen grew up in the tough Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan neighborhood, where he initially played roller hockey using a roll of electrical tape for a puck. He moved to Boston College on a partial hockey scholarship in 1975 (he had to pay $700 out of his own pocket in his first year), which became a full scholarship in his second year thanks to his exploits as a star forward for the Boston College Eagles men’s hockey team. Mullen made his international debut with the United States national team at the 1979 World Ice Hockey Championships tournament in Moscow immediately after his college career had ended. He scored seven goals in eight games for Team USA.
Although Mullen was coveted by the 1980 U.S. Olympic coach Herb Brooks, he opted to sign a free agent contract with the St. Louis Blues rather than join the eventual ‘Miracle on Ice‘ team for the 1980 Winter Olympics since his father was ill and Mullen’s family needed the money. Joe Mullen’s first professional season was spent in the minors with the Blues’ top farm team, the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, where he was voted Central Hockey League Rookie of the Year. He also made his NHL debut for St. Louis, appearing in one game of the 1980 Stanley Cup playoffs. The next season was also spent in the minors, as Mullen won the CHL scoring championship and was named to the CHL First All-Star Team.
Mullen finally became an NHL regular in 1981–82, when he scored 59 points in 45 games for the Blues. He was traded to the Calgary Flames in 1986 where he enjoyed some of his best seasons, playing in the 1989 and 1990 NHL All-Star Game as well as being named to the league First All-Star Team in 1989 (he also was the NHL plus/minus leader that season). He also won his first Stanley Cup as a member of the Flames in 1989. In 1990, the Flames traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a second-round draft pick, reasoning that at age 33, Mullen would soon be a spent force. He was an important performer on the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams of 1991 and 1992. During his time in Pittsburgh, Mullen also played in the 1994 NHL All-Star Game. Mullen spent the 1995–96 season with the Boston Bruins as a free agent before returning to play his final NHL season in Pittsburgh in 1996–97.
Mullen played for Team USA at the 1984, 1987 and 1991 Canada Cup tournaments. He also won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1995 in recognition for his service to American hockey. Mullen retired in 1997 as the first American born NHL player to score 500 goals (502). Mullen was also the first American to reach 1,000 total career points (eventually reaching 1,063), a feat that has been equaled by only six other Americans. Mullen was the all-time leader in goals scored by a player born and trained in the United States at the time of his retirement. Three players (Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick) have since surpassed Mullen in career goals.
Post playing career
At 42, Mullen briefly came out of retirement in 1999 to once again play for the US national team in the 1999 World Ice Hockey Championships qualifying tournament (the U.S. team featuring several NHL players had surprisingly finished among the bottom four in the previous 1998 World Championship tournament) when no active NHL players were available; incidentally, another player on that team wasNeal Broten, from the Miracle on Ice team. He currently serves as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League. Mullen was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame andUnited States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.
Legendary Penguins broadcaster Mike Lange, who is famous for his colorful nicknames, gave Mullen the moniker “Slippery Rock Joe” for his agility and toughness on the ice. The nickname led some Pittsburgh fans to mistakenly believe that he was a graduate of nearby Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.
- ECAC First All-Star Team (1977, 1979)
- NCAA East First All-Star Team (1978, 1979)
- Lady Byng Trophy (1987, 1989)
- NHL First Team All-Star (1989)
- Played in NHL All-Star Game (1989, 1990, 1994)
- Lester Patrick Trophy (1995)
- Stanley Cup (1989, 1991, 1992)
- Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (2000)