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Mogilny is a true sniper

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Tony Care


He's a true sniper with speed to match. His dangerous wrist shot puts fear into goaltenders whenever he's in the slot. When he first signed with the Leafs in the summer, some wondered if he was too good to be true or an inconsistent goal-scorer.

So far, all Alexander Mogilny has done is score and look great with his new linemates Robert Reichel and Gary Roberts. While we're barely into the regular season, Mogilny has given the Leafs a glimpse of what an impact player he can be for this team.

With his second goal in Monday's 6-1 defeat of the Mighty Ducks, Mogilny became the 63rd player in NHL history to reach the 400-goal plateau for his career, 19th among active players.

"He's deceptive and delivers a shot when you don't think it's coming," said Leafs Coach Pat Quinn. "He's a very skilled player with a scoring touch. The key for getting him was giving us some more balance. He's a guy who would give us that kind of look. Now we've got two or three lines that can score and that's the benefit of that acquisition."

During his 12 years in the NHL, Mogilny has had two scoring years that many players could only dream of. When he played with the Buffalo Sabres in the 1992-93 season, Mogilny scored an incredible 76 goals and added 127 points. It was his breakout year and many predicted it was only the start of something special.

While his next two seasons paled in comparison, Mogilny was traded to Vancouver in 1995 and scored 55 goals - reaffirming his status as one of the best scorers in the NHL. This past season with the Devils, Mogilny had his best year since 1995. He scored 43 goals, sixth highest in the league, and was considered one of the best free agents available when the Leafs signed him to a four-year deal.

Mogilny has said that he doesn't care about individual achievements. After sipping champagne from the Stanley Cup two years ago with New Jersey and making it back to the final last year, all he cares about is helping his new win that elusive Stanley Cup.

"I just want to share," said Mogilny. "Nothing would give me more pleasure than seeing the other guys here that have never won. It would be wonderful, really wonderful. I would like to show what I know, just focus on every game. Everything starts in the regular season.

"It's extremely difficult (to win the Stanley Cup). I had no idea how tough it can be. I'd gone two rounds, but to go four rounds is so demanding, the pressure. I couldn't imagine it but last year I knew a little more because we had been that far the year before."

Toronto seems to be a good fit for Mogilny. He's always thrived when the pressure of scoring wasn't only placed on his shoulders. When he was in Buffalo, he played with Pat LaFontaine. When he played in Vancouver, Pavel Bure was there to share the offensive burden.

In his last two years with the New Jersey, Mogilny was comfortable playing on the second line with Scott Gomez. That's because the Devils No. 1 line consisted of Petr Sykora, Patrik Elias and Jason Arnott. The line was one of the best in the NHL so Mogilny had more room to score.

In Toronto, he has a similar scenario. Mats Sundin, Mikael Renberg and Jonas Hoglund form the Leafs' top trio. Mogilny is again quite content to play where the focus of attention isn't solely on him.

"You want to feel comfortable," said Mogilny. "Right now I feel pretty good, pretty comfortable. Like with everything else, once you get older you get more experienced and with wins and losses you learn from them. It's certainly easier to play with good players, a lot more enjoyable."

But it will be Leaf fans most of all who will enjoy seeing Mogilny show off his talents wearing blue and white rather than the opponent's jersey.
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