Wilkes-Barre, PA – Hockey Hall of Famer Joe Mullen will take over the head coaching duties for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, it was announced today by Chief Executive Officer Jeff Barrett.
Additionally, Penguins captain Alain Nasreddine has been named player-coach, and the team will continue to look for an additional assistant to work on Mullen’s staff.
“We feel very fortunate that Joey will be joining the team on a full-time basis,” said Barrett. “When he filled in behind the bench during the past weekend, we weren’t sure whether he would want to take over the coaching reigns permanently. But, after seeing how he handled being thrust into a very difficult situation, and how the players responded, we were pleased to find out he was interested in guiding the team.
“It was important to bring someone into the coaching position that is familiar with all of the players in the organization, as well as the systems that Michel Therrien has implemented in Wilkes-Barre in the past. We are confident that Joey will continue to build on the foundation that Therrien and Mike Yeo laid here during the last two seasons.”
Born in New York, NY, Mullen played four seasons at Boston College, serving as team captain during his senior season of 1978-79. He led the Eagles in goal scoring during the 1976-77, 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons, while pacing the club in points during his junior and senior campaigns. A two-time All-American selection and team Most Valuable Player (1978, 1979), Mullen entered the 2005-06 season in fourth place on the school’s all-time scoring list with 212 points and third with 110 goals in 110 career games.
Mullen signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Blues in 1979, and was assigned to the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the Central Hockey League. In his first season with the club, Mullen finished 10th in league scoring with 72 points and tied for second with 40 goals, and was named the CHL rookie of the year. The following season he led the league with 117 points, finished second with 59 goals and was named the CHL most valuable player.
He made his NHL regular season debut with St. Louis during the 1981-82 season, finishing tied for fifth on the team with 59 points (25+34) despite appearing in just 45 games. Mullen played parts of five seasons in St. Louis, recording 335 points (151+184) in 301 games, twice leading the team in goal scoring (41 in 1983-84, 40 in 1984-85).
Mullen was traded to the Calgary Flames on Feb. 1, 1986, and experienced even greater success. He led the team in goals and points in both the 1986-87 (47 and 87) and 1988-89 (51 and 110) seasons, was named the winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for gentlemanly play in each of those seasons, and captured his first Stanley Cup championship in 1989 while being named an NHL First-Team All-Star. He totaled 338 points (190+148) in 345 games as a member of the Flames.
The 5-10, 180 pound forward was traded to Pittsburgh prior to the 1990-91 season, and was a key member of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup teams in both 1991 and 1992. His 42 goals during the 1991-92 season were second only to Kevin Stevens’ 54 on the team, while his 87 points placed him third behind Stevens and Mario Lemieux.
Mullen became the first American-born player to record 1,000 points when he picked up an assist against the Florida Panthers on Feb. 7, 1995. He signed with the Boston Bruins prior to the 1995-96 season, but returned to Pittsburgh in 1996-97, and netted his 500th career goal against the Colorado Avalanche on March 14, once again becoming the first American to accomplish the feat.
Mullen recorded 325 points (153+172) in 379 regular season games with the Penguins, and finished his 18-year NHL career with 502 goals, 561 assists and 1,063 points. He remains the top American-born goal scorer to this date.
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000, Mullen spent four seasons as an assistant coach in Pittsburgh.
“There aren’t very many teams that can say their head coach has had such an illustrious career as Joey. His more than 500 goals and 1,000 points speak volumes as to what kind of player he was, and I know he will bring a tremendous amount of experience, leadership and respect to our team,” said Barrett.
Nasreddine has served as the Penguins team captain for the past two seasons, and brings more than a decade’s worth of experience to his new dual position. A sixth round pick (135th overall) by the Florida Panthers in 1993, he has appeared in more than 700 games in the NHL, AHL and IHL.
“Alain has proven to be a tremendous leader since joining the team two years ago,” said Barrett, “and that leadership has been apparent during the past seven days. Nas played a huge role in helping Joey and Rick Kehoe to prepare for last weekend’s three games, helping to guide the team through practices and serving as a sounding board. We are very excited that he will be able to add the title ‘coach’ before his name.”
The Penguins return to action Wednesday night against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in Connecticut, and return home to face the Philadelphia Phantoms on Friday. Game time at the Wachovia Arena is 7:05pm, and good seats still remain. For tickets, call 570-693-4100, visit the Wachovia Arena Box Office or visit www.ticketmaster.com.