Another year has passed and once again Alexander Mogilny has been passed over for being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Why? What am I missing? Mogilny once scored 76 goals in 77 games. He scored 473 goals total. He scored over 1000 points. He battled through broken legs and chronic hip pain and still played at an elite level throughout most of his career. Mogilny was blessed with an incredible hockey body.
Mogilny was strong as an ox with tree trunk like powerful legs. Built like a tank. Devastating speed. Lightning quick hands most players could only dream about. Elite hockey sense. He made the game look easy. This is what great players do. They slow the game down and create scoring opportunities. Mogilny did this better than most. He was one of those rare players who you thought would score a goal each time he was on the ice. Defensemen feared him because he'd often make them look silly. He was supremely confident and was a joy to watch.
I remember the first time I saw Alexander Mogilny play. He was this young junior kid playing for the Soviets in the 1987 World Junior championship. You may remember this tournament as "The Punch up in Piestany." Mogilny didn't play much but I took notice when he did. He looked like this blazing rocket shot into space at warp speed. I was 11 years old and I asked my Dad "Who is this guy? He's awesome! Can the Red Wings draft him?"
Ever since that moment I remembered his name. Mogilny. I knew he'd be in the NHL someday. I knew he'd be a superstar. He was too good not to be. We talk today about how Connor McDavid makes great plays at high speed. That's what Mogilny did. He could wire the puck top corner with ease it felt like. He could change speeds instantly and use his leg strength to cut to the middle of the ice and shield defenders off. He was a goalie's worst nightmare.
I remember next watching Mogilny play for the Soviets in the 1988 Winter Olympics. There he was once again blazing out of a cannon into space at warp speed leading his team to a Gold Medal. He was even faster and stronger than he was before. In the 1989 World Junior championship, Mogilny became a household name in Canada. He played on the top line with Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Bure. This line was loaded with firepower. They dominated when they were on the ice. All 3 players could skate fast with the high end skill to create mismatches and exploit weaknesses. Of course they won gold. How could they not?
Over the years there's been only a few players who bring that WOW factor. Mogilny was one of them. He was a WOW factor off the ice too. Mogilny was the first drafted Russian player to defect. The Buffalo Sabres drafted Mogilny at #89 in the 1988 NHL Entry draft. Hence why he wore #89. Mogilny was determined to play in the NHL. Former Soviet head coach Viktor Tikhanov once punched him in the head during a game. Mogilny knew he could play with and against the best. So he wanted to risk defecting to the NHL. Fedorov and Bure soon followed but it was Mogilny who blazed the trail. I don't think Mogilny gets enough credit for doing that.
So Mogilny scores a goal on his first shift as a Buffalo Sabre. It takes him a few years to really find his stride. He's still playing very well and he scores 30 goals in year 3. But then the Sabres make a huge blockbuster trade with the Islanders and acquire All Star center Pat LaFontaine. The two hit it off immediately and Mogilny scores 76 goals and 127 points. These guys were especially deadly on the Power Play. If Mogilny doesn't break his leg in the 1993 playoffs, I don't think the Habs sweep them in the second round. But Mogilny was now a bonafide NHL superstar. Just like I knew he would be back in 1987.
Mogilny scored alot of goals for Buffalo. Most of them in impressive fashion. His highlight reel goals including break aways, one timers, dekes and deadly wrist shots. He was an excellent playmaker as well and I don't think he got enough credit for this either. Mogilny then gets traded to the Vancouver Canucks. Pat Quinn loves his skill set and thinks Mogilny will win him a Cup in Vancouver. Mogilny will be re-united with former teammate and linemate, Pavel Bure. The two have instant chemistry of course and light up the scoreboard.
Unfortunately, Bure starts having knee problems causing him to miss alot of games. Mogilny keeps producing though. He goes on to play 2 stints in New Jersey, winning a Cup with the 2000 Devils. Even in the twilight of his career and playing with a damaged hip, he finds a renaissance with Mats Sundin in Toronto scoring 36 goals. Mogilny produced everywhere he went. I always wondered what he could've achieved if he didn't break a leg twice and have that bad hip? We'll never know. But we do know what he DID do and it was worthy of being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Because he was better than many current Hall of Famers like Bernie Federko and Guy Carbonneau for example. Different styles, blah blah blah. Stop making excuses!
I don't know why Alexander Mogilny isn't in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Is there a real Russian bias? Did he have an attitude with reporters? I don't know and I don't care. Why should that be part of any criteria in deciding Hall of Fame induction? Is it a popularity contest? It's completely ridiculous. Mogilny has been Hall of Fame eligible for over a decade now. He keeps being ignored, forgotten and passed over.
It's a hockey travesty. Was he a top player in his era? Yes. Did he score more than a point per game? Yes. Elite goal scorer? Yes. Did he make his teams and teammates better? Yes. Did he stand out? Yes. Remember The Wow factor. Was he consistently very good to great? Yes. Fedorov and Bure are both in the hockey Hall of Fame. Mogilny was just as good as those guys were. I'm biased towards Fedorov as a Red Wings fan. But if Fedorov was better, it wasn't by much. Same goes for Bure.
I don't know if Mogilny will make it next year either. Both Sedins and Alfredsson should be inducted and all 3 of them deserve it. But Alexander Mogilny is turning into the Jack Morris of the NHL and it isn't right. A great player who for some reason or another is purposely being left off the voters list for induction year after year. This is the main problem I have with voters. I believe most of them make honest and unbiased picks.
But I do believe that some of them do let personal grievances get in the way of making proper selections. What a player does off the ice shouldn't overshadow what a player did on the Ice. Not kissing the media's a$$ shouldn't prevent a player from making the Hall of Fame. Revenge voting shouldn't exist. Whether he gets in or not, Alexander Mogilny is a Hall of Famer in my eyes. Here's to you Alexander Mogilny! Number 89. One of the best Russian hockey players of all time! 😊