His uncanny speed, lethal wrist-shot, and superb vision on the ice were among the many attributes that made Mogilny worthy of the Hall of Fame.
Mogilny began his NHL career in 1989, when the Buffalo Sabres selected him 89th overall in the draft—hence the No. 89 on his jersey. "Alexander the Great" played in 381 games in six years with the Sabres, tallying 211 goals and an unprecedented 444 points.
His best years with the squad were in '92-'93 and '93-'94.
The 1992-93 season was a historical one. Mogilny was elected to his first of five All-Star games, making him the first Russian-born player to be so honored. He ended the season with 76 goals—a Sabres single-season record—and became the first ever European player to lead the NHL in goals scored.
Mogilny was named captain of the Sabres in the '93-'94 season. The distinction made No. 89 the first ever European to have the "C" sewed on his sweater in the NHL.
Do you sense a pattern here?
Mogilny was ultimately traded to the Vancouver Canucks, with whom he played a handful of seasons. After a 50+ goal campaign, a contract dispute, and a conflict with head coach Tom Renney, Alexander was shipped to the New Jersey Devils on the eve of the trade deadline in 2000.
Mogilny made an immediate impact with the Devils, and was an integral part of their winning the Stanley Cup.
Mogilny followed the championship year with 83 points in 75 games for the Devils in 2000-01, then joined the Toronto Maple Leafs the following year.
Mogilny played a pivotal role in the Leafs' playoff runs from 2001-04. Though Toronto lost in the Conference Finals, Alexander finished the '02-'03 season with 79 points—supplanting captain Mats Sundin as the team leader.
Alexander the Great returned to the Devils in 2004 before being hounded into retirement by a nagging hip injury in 2006.
He finished his career with 990 games played, 473 goals and 1,032 points.
Among his other feats, Mogilny won the 2003 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy—awarded to the NHL player who demonstrates the best sportsmanship while excelling on the ice.
Mogilny is also one of 19 players in history to have earned a spot in the Triple Gold Club—winning an Olympic Gold Medal (1988), a World Championship Gold Medal (1989), and the Stanley Cup (2000).
In 1988, Mogilny won the "Best Forward" award in the Silver Medal Junior World Championship, and played on Russia's 1989 Junior World Championship gold medal squad.
On a personal note, there has never been an NHL player whom I've tried to emulate more than Alexander Mogilny. His skills and demeanor were absolutely unparalleled.
Like many other unlucky stars, Alexander's career was cut short by injuries. Still, his accomplishments should make him a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.
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