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On This Date in Sports February 7, 1995: Joey From Hell's Kitchen

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Joe Mullen of the Pittsburgh Penguins becomes the first American-born player to score 1,000 points in the NHL. Mullen reaches the milestone early as he records two assists as the Penguins crush the Florida Panthers 7-3 at Pittsburgh Civic Center. Mullen also added two goals in the victory at the Igloo. Joe Mullen would retire following the 1996/97 season with 1,063 points, including 502 goals in a 16-year career. 

Joe Mullen was born in New York on February 26, 1957. Raised in Hell's Kitchen, Mullen had an unlikely path to stardom in the NHL. Mullen's father worked on the maintenance staff at Madison Square Garden and often gave him old sticks to play with as he learned the sport by playing roller hockey and learned how to ice skate when he was allowed to follow his father to work. At the time, Hell's Kitchen was among New York's toughest neighborhoods with a heavy influence from the mafia, as several people that Joe Mullen knew died before they were 21. Seeing Joe Mullen and his attempts to play hockey, New York Rangers coach and General Manager Emile Francis created New York's first junior hockey program. 

Playing in the Metropolitan Junior Hockey Association, Joe Mullen proved the be the best hockey prospect in the city, as he scored nearly twice as many goals as his nearest competitor. Mullen would go on to play at Boston College, setting several school records as he led the Eagles to an appearance in the Frozen Four Championship Game in 1978, losing to rival Boston University. Despite his accomplishments at Boston College, Joe Mullen went undrafted in the NHL, as scouts thought he was too small to play in the NHL at 5'9". Turning down a chance to play on the 1980 Olympic Team, Joe Mullen signed with the St. Louis Blues before the start of the 1979/80 season.

Joe Mullen made his NHL debut in the 1980 playoffs, playing one game for the St. Louis Blues. After winning the CHL MVP in 1981, Mullen got his first chance to play in the NHL in 1982, after starting the season with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles. Mullen scored two goals in eight seconds on January 5, 1982, and proved that he belonged in the NHL. After scoring 21 goals in 27 games in the CHL, Joe Mullen scored 25 with the Blues, becoming the first player with 20 goals in the minors and 20 goals in the NHL in the same season. Two years later, he became the first American-born player to score 40 goals in an NHL season. 

Late in the 1985/86 season, Joe Mullen was traded to the Calgary Flames. The deadline deal proved to be a spark for the Flames as they upset the Edmonton Oilers and went to the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Blues in the Campbell Conference Final. Mullen became a fan favorite in Calgary and appeared in two All-Star Games. In 1989, Joe Mullen had 24 points in the postseason as the Flames won the Stanley Cup. 

Joe Mullen would express a desire to play in the United States, and he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins before the 1990/91 season. In his first two seasons in Pittsburgh, Mullen became a valuable team leader as the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992. Joe Mullen spent one season with the Bruins in 1996 before returning to the Penguins for his final season. He retired in 1997 with 502 goals and 561 assists for a total of 1,065 points. Joe Mullen was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000, the first year of eligibility.