Alexander Mogilny

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Alexander Mogilny
Alexander Mogilny.jpg
Mogilny with the Albany River Rats in 2006
Born (1969-02-18) February 18, 1969 (age 49)
Khabarovsk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 210 lb (95 kg; 15 st 0 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Left
Played for USSR
CSKA Moscow
NHL
Buffalo Sabres
Vancouver Canucks
New Jersey Devils
Toronto Maple Leafs
National team  Soviet Union and
 Russia
NHL Draft 89th overall, 1988
Buffalo Sabres
Playing career 1986–2006

Alexander Gennadevich Mogilny (Russian: Александр Геннадиевич Могильный; born February 18, 1969), is a Russian former professional ice hockey player, currently the president of Amur Khabarovsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).[1]

In the National Hockey League (NHL), Mogilny played for the Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and the New Jersey Devils. He tied for the NHL lead in goals in the 1992–93 season with 76, and became a member of the Triple Gold Club by winning the Stanley Cup in 2000 with the New Jersey Devils.

Early Life in the Soviet Union[edit]

Growing up in Soviet Union, Mogilny played with Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Bure on CSKA Moscow, commonly referred to as the "Red Army team". The Red Army Team was the powerhouse hockey team of the Soviet league and was able to pull off a long run of dominance. During that time, the CSKA organization was a functioning division of the Red Army. Taking advantage of the fact that all able-bodied Soviet males had to serve in the military, it was able to draft the best young hockey players in the Soviet Union onto the team. There was a substantial overlap between the rosters of the Red Army Team and the Soviet national team. The Mogilny, Fedorov and Bure trio were considered to be the Red Army's prized jewels of next generation players.

Mogilny first represented the Soviet Union on the international stage as a 17-year old at the 1987 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. It was famously remembered for a brawl between the Soviet Union players and Team Canada known as the Punch-up in Piestany. The IIHF suspended all the players involved in that game from competing in international events for 18 months. The penalty was eventually reduced to 6 months, allowing Mogilny to compete in the 1988 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships where he scored 9 goals and 18 points in 7 games en route to a silver medal finish and winning the Top Forward award. He also played with the senior team at the 1988 Winter Olympics where he won a gold medal as the team's youngest player. The next year, at the 1989 World Juniors, he served as team captain and was a part of the commanding Bure-Fedorov-Mogilny line which led their team to the gold medal. Mogilny finished that tournament with 7 goals and 12 points in 7 games. After winning the gold medal with the Soviet national team at the 1989 World Championships in Stockholm, he defected to North America with the help of representatives of the Buffalo Sabres,[2] the NHL club that had drafted him 89th overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft.

Buffalo Sabres[edit]

After arriving in North America, Mogilny was given the number 89 by team management in recognition of both the year he defected and his place in the draft. He subsequently wore #89 for his entire playing career.

He made his NHL debut on October 5, 1989 against the Quebec Nordiques during the 1989-90 season and scored his first NHL goal 20 seconds into his first shift. Mogilny's first season was middling, despite being considered as one of the best players outside the NHL prior to his defection. He finished his rookie year with a respectable 43 points and improved to 30 goals and 64 points during his sophomore season. He continued his ascension with 39 goals and 84 points the next year and established himself as an elite superstar in his fourth season. On December 21, 1991 in a game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mogilny scored five seconds into the game to tie the NHL record for fastest goal scored to start a game.[3]

In the 1991-92 season, the Buffalo Sabres acquired future captain Pat Lafontaine from the New York Islanders. Lafontaine developed an instant chemistry playing with Mogilny and two superstars elevated their games to new heights by maximizing their speed and skill. The 1992-93 NHL season was a banner year for Mogilny, as he set career highs with 76 goals and 127 points in 77 games. His 76 goals tied Teemu Selänne for the NHL goal-scoring lead that year, which was the fifth-highest season goal total in NHL history, and a Buffalo Sabres team record for most goals in a season. Mogilny's 76 goals and 127 points are also the highest season totals ever for a Russian NHL player. He scored his 50th goal in his 46th game that year, but it did not count as an official 50 goals in 50 games record as it occurred during the team's 53rd game. He finished the season with seven hat-tricks including three in four games, two 4-goal games, and a stretch where he scored 23 goals in 13 games.[4] Mogilny served as the Sabres captain for a period the following season, the first Russian captain NHL history,[5] and finished the year with 79 points in 66 games.

Vancouver Canucks[edit]

Due to financial restraints brought about by the contractual demands of Lafontaine and Dominik Hašek, the Sabres were forced to trade Mogilny, along with a fifth round draft pick (Todd Norman), to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Mike Peca, Mike Wilson and a first round draft pick (Jay McKee) on July 8, 1995.

Mogilny began the season playing with Pavel Bure, his former CSKA Moscow linemate, on what was expected to be one of the NHL's premiere offensive combinations. Bure however, would miss almost the entire season with a torn ACL, so Mogilny played with primarily with Cliff Ronning and Martin Gélinas. He was able to reach the 50-goal plateau again and finished the season as the Canucks' leading scorer with 107 points. He would lead the team in scoring again his second year and also served as the Canucks interim captain when Trevor Linden was sidelined with injury. Mogilny's success in Vancouver would not last however, as assorted injuries and inconsistency dropped his production to 128 points in 157 games over the next three seasons. He was also unable to find the expected on-ice success with Bure. After trading Bure to the Florida Panthers in January 1999, the Canucks sent Mogilny to the New Jersey Devils for Brendan Morrison and Denis Pederson on March 14, 2000.

New Jersey Devils[edit]

The Devils acquired Mogilny in the weeks leading up to the 2000 Stanley Cup Playoffs to inject elite skill on a primarily defensive team for their playoff run that spring. After adding the sniper, the Devils won the Stanley Cup and Mogilny was able to capture his first and only NHL championship. With his Stanley Cup win, he became a member of the prestigious Triple Gold Club.

The next year, he stayed mainly injury-free for the first time in 3 years had a strong bounce-back season, leading the Devils with 43 goals and finishing with 83 points. His team went back to the Stanley Cup Finals for a second consecutive season but lost in the final series to the Colorado Avalanche.

Toronto Maple Leafs[edit]

During the free agency period of 2001, multiple teams expressed interest in Mogilny as the Devils could not meet his market price. He agreed to a 4-year, $22 million contract on July 3, 2001 with the Toronto Maple Leafs citing the team's fanbase and that there was no better place to be for his decision.[6] He became the elite winger the Leafs lacked for many years since Wendel Clark's first stint with the team. The Maple Leafs expressed interest in Mogilny as he was able to provide scoring relief to team captain Mats Sundin. Mogilny had an strong start with his new team, scoring two goals in his Maple Leafs debut. [7] He also scored his 400th career NHL goal in the 3rd game of the season vs the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.[8] He would finish the year second in team scoring playing primarily with Gary Roberts and Robert Reichel. Mogilny followed that by playing an important role during the team's playoff run to the Eastern Conference Finals. With Sundin injured for most of the playoffs, Mogilny led the Leafs in playoff goal-scoring and scored 2 goals in both Game 7 wins vs the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators. They were subsequently eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes in the next round in 6 games.

The next season, head coach Pat Quinn decided to start the season by placing his 2 best forwards, Mogilny and Sundin, on the 1st line. Darcy Tucker was the initial third forward on the line but was soon replaced by Nikolai Antropov after Tucker could not find consistency with the dynamic duo. The new Leafs trio became a dangerous line for the remainder of the season. Mogilny and Sundin had good chemistry playing together, particularly on the powerplay, and both finished with 70+ point seasons. Mogilny led the team with 79 points and scored 2 hat-tricks that year.[9] It was also the only year that Sundin did not lead the Leafs in scoring during his Maple Leafs career. They were matched with the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, where Mogilny scored his first career playoff hat-trick in Game 1, led the team in playoff goals again, but the team was eliminated in 6 games. He was awarded the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct at season's end, the first Leaf since Dave Keon to win in 1963. It was also the first individual award won by a Maple Leafs player since 1993, when Doug Gilmour was awarded Selke Trophy.

The next year, Mogilny spent most of the season injured as he underwent major hip surgery. He returned late in the season where he recorded his 1000th career NHL point in dramatic fashion against the Buffalo Sabres. Down 5-2 in the third period, the Leafs completed their comeback when Gary Roberts tipped a Mogilny shot for Alex's 1000th career point and the game-tying goal late in the third period. Mogilny then set up Tomáš Kaberle for the thrilling overtime winner immediately after serving a bullshit penalty. Despite high expectations for the team that year for a Stanley Cup with many future Hall of Famers on the roster, they would not have much success in the playoffs. With outstanding performances by Ed Belfour, they edged the Ottawa Senators in the first round but were eliminated by the physical Philadelphia Flyers in the second round. Mogilny's 4th season with the club was cancelled due to the lockout and he became a free agent in 2005 as the Leafs were unable to afford Mogilny under the new salary cap. On October 14, 2016, the Maple Leafs unveiled their Top 100 greatest players list where Mogilny was ranked as the #83 greatest Maple Leaf of all-time.[10]

Return to New Jersey[edit]

Recovering over the lockout cancelled 2004–05 season, Mogilny returned to New Jersey Devils on August 16, 2005 by agreeing to a US$7 million deal for two years.[11] Although he scored 25 points in 34 games, Mogilny's chronic hip problem left him as a shadow of his previous self and he was unable to perform at his previous levels. He agreed to play for the Albany River Rats, the Devils' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate at the time midway through the 2005-2006 season for salary cap reasons. His 473 career NHL goals at the time were the most ever for a player entering the AHL. Mogilny finished the year after playing 19 games for the River Rats but could not gain medical clearance to return to the NHL for the 2006-2007 NHL season. He was placed on long-term injury reserve during training camp and retired at the end of the season.

Mogilny was the first non-North American to lead the league in goals scored (along with Teemu Selänne from Finland), the first Russian and non-North American to be an NHL captain, first Russian named to the NHL All-Star Team, holds the highest single-season goal and points total for a Russian player, and is (as of the end of the 2017–18 season) the third highest Russian scorer in the history of the NHL. Mogilny was the second Russian player to reach 1,000 points in the NHL, hitting the milestone just a few days after Fedorov.

International play[edit]

Medal record
Men's ice hockey
Representing Soviet Union Soviet Union
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1988 Calgary Ice hockey
World Championship
Gold medal – first place 1989 Sweden Ice hockey
World Junior Championship
Silver medal – second place 1988 Soviet Union Ice hockey
Gold medal – first place 1989 USA Ice hockey

At the 1988 Winter Olympics, Mogilny made his senior debut with the Soviet national team as an 18-year-old in Canada. He played with the full-roster Soviet Union team that won the gold medal.

In the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, Team Russia had played five preliminary games in order to set the groupings for the main tournament stage. Russia was the only team that went undefeated (winning against Finland (Moscow), Germany (Landshut), Sweden (Stockholm), USA (Detroit), and tied against Canada (Calgary).[12][13][14][15] The U.S.A, Sweden and Finland games saw the pairing line of "Bure-Fedorov-Mogilny", for the first and only time internationally on the senior level,[14][16] and was considered "perhaps the best forward line on earth" at the time.[17] Mogilny and Fedorov played on the same line and both led the team in scoring, but they lost in the semi-finals against U.S.A, after defeating Finland 5–0 in the quarterfinals.

Player profile[edit]

Alex, I think, was the strongest. He has the most agility, the quickest release and the best shot...the leader of our line

Sergei Fedorov, who played on a line with Mogilny and Pavel Bure internationally.[18]

A natural right-winger, Alexander Mogilny profiles the classic Russian winger: An off-wing sniper with elusive skating ability, shiftiness, exceptional puck skills and an arsenal of shots. Under the CSKA Moscow hockey program, Mogilny developed elite skating and shooting capabilities to become one of the most talented Russian prospects to play in the NHL. He had explosive acceleration, which helped him generate numerous breakaways and the ability to blast through defenders. Listed at 6 feet and 200 pounds, he possessed a strong combination of agility, balance as well an uncanny ability to be evasive in checks. A highly effective forechecker, he did not rely on physicality to generate turnovers but instead a combination of anticipation, excellent positioning and a swift stick to create takeaways. Mogilny was particularly adept at creating quick-strike offence from his right-wing. He preferred to rush in on his off-wing, make a quick deke into the slot and fire a quick wristshot. If he was covered, Mogilny was more than capable of making crisp accurate passes to an open teammate off the rush to create an unpredictable offence. Although he was blessed with tremendous speed, Mogilny was also very skilled at slowing down his game to create half-ice offence because of his excellent hockey sense. He had outstanding on-ice awareness and was proficient in quarter-backing his team's offence from the half-boards. "Alexander is a conscientious player who sees the ice with considerable clarity", Pat Quinn once described Mogilny.[19]

He was generally a very structured, calculated player, utilizing his patience, physicality, and creative passing plays to generate offense. Offensively, Mogilny often drifted within a designated area in the offensive zone and would rely particularly on plays from the right side and behind the net; his anticipation, meanwhile, permitted him to retrieve loose pucks and create second opportunities from behind the opposing net. He utilized his shot and side-to-side movement, as well as sneaky tactics to generate chances and would generally return to a number of preferred locations in the offensive zone if he was out of position. If he was freewheeling, however, Mogilny's skill set allowed him to at times perform remarkable feats with the puck. His combination of raw hockey skills and his willingness to not shy away from physical play made him, at the time, one of the most complete offensive players of the game.

A poised player with the puck, and gifted with incredible vision, Mogilny generated an abundance of remarkable plays. In addition, his stick handling skills were excellent, and his skating was terrific. While he was not as explosive a skater as Bure, Mogilny's tremendous agility allowed him to navigate smoothly throughout the open ice. His speed was also very admirable. As a result, when carrying the puck into the offensive zone, he could frequently cut across the slot or maneuver into an open space to unleash his shot. Occasionally, though, he would catch the opponent unprepared, and would swiftly stickhandle through the defender. Defensively, his ability to send pucks cross-ice was useful when his team needed to transition quickly.[20]

Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin once called Mogilny the "Best player [he's] ever played with".[21] The two were teammates during Mogilny's tenure with the Maple Leafs. Sundin described Mogilny as "gifted, skilled, and a natural hockey player". The late two-time Jack Adams Award winner and former coach of the Canadian Olympic hockey team, Pat Quinn, called him "The most talented player that he's ever coached."[22] Mogilny was characterized by Quinn as "Having good size and wonderful skating ability, he can play any kind of game."[23] Sergei Fedorov was quoted to say "Alex was faster than all of us, Bure and Fedorov, and Alex was a machine. He was built like a machine." [24] "Plus on top of all the crazy skill he had, he’s better than all of us. He’s amazing." Fedorov said all three players were known for their speed, but Mogilny, in his opinion, was the fastest player of them all. "If you went back and forth five times, (Mogilny) will be first," Fedorov said. "I will be third." Igor Larionov, who played with him briefly when Mogilny was a rookie with the Central Army team, was quickly impressed by the young Russian from Khabarovsk. When asked about Mogilny, Larionov said "He was such a talented guy. Really good with the stick, and smart. He was a natural."[25] Pat Lafontaine described Mogilny as the "Best player [he's] seen and played with. I’ve been lucky to play with some great players in my career, but I put Alex as the best player that I had a chance to see and play with talent-wise," LaFontaine said of his teammate. "He was the rare combination of the speed, the skill and finesse, quickness. He was just the full package." Lafontaine and Mogilny were linemates during the 1992-93 NHL season and enjoyed remarkable success, as Mogilny scored 76 goals and Lafontaine had 148 points that year. Lafontaine described that year as "There was a sixth sense. We just had an idea of where each other was going to be on the ice. One thing about Alex, he thinks the game at such a high level. His hockey sense and to be able to have the hands and the feet and the speed, he’s that rare combination of everything."[26] Former long-time New Jersey Devils president Lou Lamoriello once said of Mogilny, "If there was any one player capable of breaking a game open at any given time, he certainly is that. His skating is exceptional. His shot is exceptional."[11]

Often the offensive catalyst for his line and his team, Mogilny has led his team in scoring various times. As his career progressed and injuries began to mount, he evolved into a cerebral play-maker to generate his offence. Mogilny has always been a strong two-way player thanks to a high level of hockey instincts and a tremendous sense of anticipation. His preferred move on a breakaway is a quick snapshot to catch the goalie off-guard. The backhand 5-hole is also one of Mogilny's favourite moves.

Awards and achievements[edit]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Bolded numbers indicate season/ playoff leader

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1986–87 CSKA Moscow USSR 28 15 1 16 4
1987–88 CSKA Moscow USSR 39 12 8 20 14
1988–89 CSKA Moscow USSR 31 11 11 22 24
1989–90 Buffalo Sabres NHL 65 15 28 43 16 4 0 1 1 2
1990–91 Buffalo Sabres NHL 62 30 34 64 16 6 0 6 6 2
1991–92 Buffalo Sabres NHL 67 39 45 84 73 2 0 2 2 0
1992–93 Buffalo Sabres NHL 77 76 51 127 40 7 7 3 10 6
1993–94 Buffalo Sabres NHL 66 32 47 79 22 7 4 2 6 6
1994–95 Spartak Moscow IHL 1 0 1 1 0
1994–95 Buffalo Sabres NHL 44 19 28 47 36 5 3 2 5 2
1995–96 Vancouver Canucks NHL 79 55 52 107 16 6 1 8 9 8
1996–97 Vancouver Canucks NHL 76 31 42 73 18
1997–98 Vancouver Canucks NHL 51 18 27 45 36
1998–99 Vancouver Canucks NHL 59 14 31 45 58
1999–2000 Vancouver Canucks NHL 47 21 17 38 16
1999–2000 New Jersey Devils NHL 12 3 3 6 4 23 4 3 7 4
2000–01 New Jersey Devils NHL 75 43 40 83 43 25 5 11 16 8
2001–02 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 66 24 33 57 8 20 8 3 11 8
2002–03 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 73 33 46 79 12 6 5 2 7 4
2003–04 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 37 8 22 30 12 13 2 4 6 8
2005–06 New Jersey Devils NHL 34 12 13 25 6
2005–06 Albany River Rats AHL 19 4 10 14 17
USSR totals 98 38 20 58 42
NHL totals 990 473 559 1032 432 124 39 47 86 58

International[edit]

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
1986 Soviet Union EJC 4th 5 4 1 9 4
1987 Soviet Union WJC DSQ 6 3 2 5 4
1988 Soviet Union WJC 2nd, silver medalist(s) 7 8 10 18 2
1988 Soviet Union OG 1st, gold medalist(s) 6 3 2 5 2
1989 Soviet Union WJC 1st, gold medalist(s) 7 7 5 12 4
1989 Soviet Union WC 1st, gold medalist(s) 10 0 3 3 2
1996 Russia WCH SF 5 2 4 6 0
Junior totals 25 22 18 40 14
Senior totals 21 5 9 14 4

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Admiral Vladivostok". Eliteprospects.com. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  2. ^ "Defector: The Alex Mogilny story". Sportsnet.ca. 2014-11-25. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  3. ^ "Fastest goal scored in an NHL match". Guinness World Records.
  4. ^ "Alexander Mogilny". Sports Reference.
  5. ^ "All-Time Sabres Captains". NHL.
  6. ^ "Leafs sign Mogilny to multi-year deal". CBC.
  7. ^ . YouTube.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-vmDxmgIz4. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ . deseretnews.com https://www.deseretnews.com/article/868184/Mogilny-scores-400th-in-Maple-Leafs-victory.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ . hockey-reference.com https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/m/mogilal01/gamelog/2003. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ a b "Maple Leafs name greatest players in their history". NHL.com.
  11. ^ a b "Devs sign Mogilny, over cap". nydailynews.com.
  12. ^ Lapointe, Joe (1996-08-25). "Russians Mix and Match for World Cup". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Lapointe, Joe (1996-08-29). "Matchup of Power Players". The New York Times.
  14. ^ a b "Ľ189/14/Sports". Friends-partners.org. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  15. ^ Lapointe, Joe (1996-08-18). "Superpowers Lace Up To Take On the World". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "Bure's back on blades". Toronto Star. 1996-08-15.
  17. ^ Lapointe, Joe (1996-08-18). "Superpowers Lace Up To Take On the World". The New York Times.
  18. ^ "Q&A with Sergei Fedorov". Sports.espn.go.com. 2005-11-24. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  19. ^ Doug Magwood (2002). Heart and Spirit: The Toronto Maple Leafs of 2001-2002: a Fan's Journal. Books.google.ca. p. 25. ISBN 9781553698968. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  20. ^ "Ron Barr's Quotes". NHL94.com. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  21. ^ "Mats Sundin Documentary". YouTube. 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  22. ^ "Archived item". Archived from the original on 2014-05-14. Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  23. ^ "Archives - Philly.com". Articles.philly.com. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  24. ^ Clinton, Jared (2015-11-07). "Fedorov believes Mogilny and Tikhonov should join him in Hall of Fame". The Hockey News. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  25. ^ Brunt, Stephen (1921-08-07). The Way It Looks from Here: Contemporary Canadian Writing on Sports. Books.google.ca. p. 124. ISBN 9780307368560. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  26. ^ Vogl, John (2016-09-30). "Mogilny's story one of determination, skill". Buffalo News. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  27. ^ "Alexander Mogilny Statistics". Hockey-reference.com. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  28. ^ "Alexander Mogilny". Buffalosportshallfame.com. 1969-02-18. Retrieved 2016-10-20.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Pat LaFontaine
Buffalo Sabres captain
1993–94
Succeeded by
Pat LaFontaine
note: Mogilny served as captain, during most of the 1993–94 season, while Pat LaFontaine was injured & out of the line-up
Preceded by
Brett Hull
NHL Goal Leader
1993

(tied with Teemu Selanne)

Succeeded by
Pavel Bure
Preceded by
Ron Francis
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
2003
Succeeded by
Brad Richards