For all those who followed Pensburgh's offseason coverage, this will be the last installment in Pens of the Past. If you want to see the list of all 15 featured players, check out the Pens of the Past section.
Today's pick is Joe Mullen, or as Mike Lange would call him, "Slippery Rock Joe."
From a personal standpoint, one of my favorite stories about Joe Mullen focuses on how he got his start in hockey. As a New York native in the grips of Hells Kitchen, that's about as far from an ice surface as Kenya. To offset the lack of the natural playing field, Mullen tossed on some roller skates, rolled up wads of electrical tape in the shape of a puck and played roller hockey on basketball courts.
Amazingly, Mullen was good enough on ice as well. So good in fact that he received a partial scholarship to Boston College, where he caught the eye of Team USA coach Herb Brooks. Despite Brooks' persistence to have Mullen join ranks with what would go on to become the Miracle Team, Mullen remained loyal to his own dreams. He accepted a contract with the St. Louis Blues and made his NHL debut during a playoff game with the Blues in 1980.
It wasn't until 1990 (just in time for a cup) that Mullen rocked the black and gold. As mentioned among the likes of players like Rick Tocchet, Larry Murphy and Ron Francis, how many 100-point players can you have on a team with guys like Lemieux and Jagr? Fact is, you just can't. That's why Mullen dug in as that consistent 70-point-plus guy. The sort of guy you can rely on during clutch moments and the sort of guy you can turn to when a big-time starter went down.
Mullen's best season for Pittsburgh came during the 91-92 campaign, a season that found Lemieux in only 64 games. With clutch demeanor, Mullen tagged 42 goals and 45 assists for 87 points.
In 1996, Mullen was traded to the Boston Bruins after five seasons with the Penguins. Yet he would ultimately close out his career back in Steel Town the following season when he signed once again with the Pens.
One of Mullen's greatest achievements comes with the consistency angle. Mullen is only one of a few select American-born players (six) who averaged one point per game throughout their career. Brian Leetch, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Modano, Pat LaFontaine and Phil Housley are the others.
In 2000, Mullen was deservingly inducted to both the United States Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame.