Revisiting Alex Mogilny after another snub


Alex Mogilny was not only a great finisher, but a terrific playmaker during a 16-year NHL career that remains overlooked by some clueless writers of the Hockey Hall of Fame. One day, he’ll make it. Getty Images

It was a year ago that I wrote a special piece on why Alex Mogilny deserved to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. His 1032 points over 990 games with four NHL teams (Sabres, Canucks, Devils, Maple Leafs, Devils) is proof of the elite player he was.

A unique player with explosive breakaway speed, lethal wrist shot, deke and terrific playmaking skills that remain overlooked, Mogilny remains out of the Hall. They revealed the 2020 Class yesterday. For the most part, it is a strong class headlined by Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa. Each were locks. Also revealed was long overdue former defenseman Doug Wilson. A Norris winner who produced at a high level.

The most startling newest member is Kevin Lowe. A six-time Stanley Cup winner who was a key cog for all five Edmonton Cups that were highlighted by Gretzky and Messier, the solid skating defenseman had a good career. He even came to New York and was a unsung hero on the ’93-94 Rangers where he paired with 2019 Hall of Famer Sergei Zubov. They certainly got a lot of mileage out of the veteran, who again celebrated another championship with captain Mark Messier down the Canyon of Heroes.

There’s no question that Lowe was a good player who was solid throughout a long career playing twice for Edmonton where he ended along with his time spent on Broadway. A player who never won any major awards, playing for six Cup winners definitely helped Lowe get in. He was underrated during his NHL career. I was impressed with the minutes he provided for the Rangers. He was a warrior. A guy who could play the position and absorb a hit for the good of the team.

When I think of Lowe, I don’t think Hall of Fame. There’s nothing wrong with that. In a class that also includes outstanding Canadian women’s national team hockey star Kim St-Pierre and builder Ken Holland, Lowe is the one question mark. It isn’t meant as disrespectful. It’s just that compared to accomplished former stars such as Mogilny and what’s now looking like a blackballed Jeremy Roenick for stuff off the ice, he’s the one member who could’ve been passed over. Whether it was for Daniel Alfredsson, Mogilny, Roenick or Theo Fleury, those four were in a different class.

In regards to Mogilny, who will have to wait another year, it feels wrong. How many times can one of Russia’s biggest stars be snubbed? So he didn’t quite reach the magical 500 goal club due to injuries. What about the single best season by a Russian born player in NHL history? Taken from my piece written last November:

The 127 points are the most ever by a Russian born player in an individual season. Not even Sergei Fedorov beat him in his Hart year during ’93-94 when he posted 56 goals with 64 assists for 120 points with a plus-48 rating. The best season ever by a Russian player.

Notice I never said Mogilny was Fedorov, who was a remarkably productive two-way center. I didn’t say he’s Alex Ovechkin either, who is a lock once his unreal career concludes. Will he challenge Wayne Gretzky? I never even put him in Pavel Bure’s league in terms of finishing. The Russian Rocket was astonishing to watch and his career was over too soon. He’s in BTW. What’s the deal with Mogilny? Is it the fact injuries prevented better numbers? He didn’t reach 1000 games. But he won a Cup in New Jersey and proved he could score at an elite level in that system during ’00-01 when he tallied 43 goals and 83 points while boosting Scott Gomez and Sergei Brylin.

Alexander The Great as legendary Sabres announcer Rick Jeanneret referred to him while he was torching opposing goalies during a memorable ’92-93 that saw him tie rookie Teemu Selanne for the league lead in goals (76), was simply an exciting player to watch. He sure worked well with Hall of Famer Pat Lafontaine, whose career was cut short by concussions. It didn’t prevent the same Hall of Fame writers from inducting him.

Is it a bias against a Russian player, who is a Triple Gold Member? When you have them inducting solid two-way centers such as Guy Carbonneau and Bob Gainey, who are both Canadian and won in Montreal, it makes you wonder. What is the criteria or thinking? Does anyone believe Carbonneau is a Hall of Famer? I know he was a good player that won multiple Selke Trophies for his ability to check top scoring lines. He also helped the Stars win their only Cup in ’98-99. But how is he in over guys like Mogilny, Fleury, Alfredsson and Roenick? Even Steve Larmer was better and I don’t see him making it anytime soon.

It’s mystifying to this passionate hockey fan blogger that a player of Mogilny’s stature remains outside the Hall in Toronto. Sure. I was very impressed with his ’95-96 year without Bure, who went down to a torn ACL early. Mogilny only put up 55 goals and 52 assists for 107 points at age 26. His first season on Vancouver after being traded from Buffalo for a package that helped the Sabres land future captain Michael Peca. The breakdown of his goals that season are 40 even strength, 10 power play and five shorthanded. Many people may not realize it. But Mogilny totaled 20 shorthanded goals in his 16-year career. He was mostly a productive player at five-on-five and on the plus side of the ledger only winding up a minus three times. Two in abbreviated years including his last in his sad reunion with the Devils in ’05-06 due to injuries.

You know. Bure wound up with 437 goals in 702 games when his career ended at 31 in Manhattan. Mogilny totaled 473 in 990. So not as lethal a finisher, but a better overall player due to his ability to find the open man. He wound up with 559 assists. He not only paced the 2000-01 Devils in goals (43). But added 40 helpers while leading them in even strength goals (31), tying for first in power play goals (12) and finishing tops in game-winners (7).

He made teammates better. Maybe there’s a misconception about Mogilny due to his finishing ability. An eight-time 30-goal scorer who topped 70 once, 50 once and 40 once, Mogilny deserves his place in Toronto. If he doesn’t make it next year when Alfredsson is sure to be going in with possibly Rod Brind’Amour, it will remain a mystery as to why.

Put Number 89 in where he belongs!

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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