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[VIDEO] Alexander Mogilny: The Lost Shifts (A Look Back at Another NHL Legend)

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10-01-2012, 12:42 PM
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JetsAlternate
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[VIDEO] Alexander Mogilny: The Lost Shifts (A Look Back at Another NHL Legend)

Due to the positive reception to my close analysis of Pavel Bure, I have decided to produce a spin-off instalment in which we focus our attention on another Russian hockey superstar -- his former-linemate, Alexander Mogilny. This is, in part, due to the lack of footage online of him, and in part because recollections of his game have seemingly been lost with time.

While hockey fans are well aware of, and quite familiar with some of the sport’s greatest all-time players, some players have become relatively obscure and mysterious once retiring from the NHL. Details about these players’ abilities, their styles of play, and their once-renowned presence in the hockey world have rarely been discussed, and it seems as time passes, more becomes forgotten; Alex Mogilny has unfortunately been a victim of this. He retired under unfortunate circumstances, buried in the AHL in the midst of the 2005-06 season and finishing his career with the New Jersey Devils’ minor-league affiliate. Throughout the majority of his career, however, Mogilny proved he could at times be a dominant force against opposing teams. He scored 76 goals in his fourth NHL season to tie for the league lead in scoring, became the first ever European NHL captain, was named to six NHL All-Star games, is a member of the Triple Gold Club, and became the second ever Russian player to reach the 1000-point mark in 2004.

Despite his accomplishments, though, there seems to be much curiosity now about what made Mogilny so effective; strangely, little is heard about him from fans of the Sabres, Devils, Leafs, or Canucks. In many discussions today, Mogilny has fallen under the radar, and many have difficulty recalling exact details about his style of play. Some have only identified him as a gifted skater who could score goals and make plays, but the specifics have been lost by many. Canucks fans recall little of him, and there is little discussion ever about his years in Vancouver. It is remarkable to see that Mogilny is the least discussed of the former-Soviet trio featuring Pavel Bure, Sergei Fedorov, and himself; more surprising is the lack of footage online to educate and remind fans of what made him unique.

To answer several questions and provide a clear understanding of exactly what kind of player he was, I have compiled a footage reel featuring shifts from five NHL games featuring Alexander Mogilny from between 1993 and 2000. This footage includes many regular shifts in which he did not score goals, as well as goal highlights, breakout plays, physical plays, and demonstrations of immense creativity, structure, and control.



Footage was primarily taken from games against Colorado, Florida, and New Jersey; select highlights were taken from a game against Detroit and one against Calgary, however, to highlight successful goal scoring-attempts and to emphasize certain points. Below are the games from which footage was used:

February 24, 1993 vs. the Detroit Red Wings (to highlight how he scored goals)
April 27, 1994 vs. the New Jersey Devils
April 22, 1996 vs the Colorado Avalanche
October 5, 1996 vs. the Calgary Flames
April 13, 2000 vs. the Florida Panthers

Alexander Mogilny was, without question, a sniper, scoring many goals using either his tremendous slap shot or quick wrist shot to blast the puck by the goaltender. He had a magnificent shot, accomplishing a shooting percentage of 20% or above twice during his career while averaging fewer than 300 shots per season. In addition, Mogilny often worked behind the opposition’s net and at the right half-wall, controlling the play and presenting a commanding presence once his teammates had established themselves in the offensive zone. Once established, he would roam throughout the lower half of the offensive zone, often sneaking into the slot for a one-timer if the puck was on the left side, behind the net to make a play, or sometimes parking beside the crease for a tap-in. He was a calculated positional player, and would sometimes generate a sneaky scoring chance from behind the net by skating out front and pulling the puck on his backhand.

Alex was also strong on his skates and had incredible balance. Consequently, he could control the puck well from behind the net or skate into traffic to retrieve the puck. Often, he would be challenged by opposing defenders, forcing him to play a physical and rough style involving much pushing along the boards, behind the net, and at times in the crease. In the footage, he is seen at times involving himself with Adam Foote and Scott Stevens. He was a physical player, and was unafraid to use his body to protect the puck. Furthermore, he would always finish his check.

Mogilny’s vision was remarkable, and he possessed the uncanny ability to perform quick, difficult passes; furthermore, he could remain quite calm while in control of the play, and had a poise to his game that kept opponents guessing. He would not hesitate to attempt a cross-ice pass or to pass back-and-forth with a teammate until a scoring chance became apparent. Due to this patience, he would regularly evaluate when to shoot and when to pass, taking full advantage of his situation.

His stick handling skills were excellent, and his skating was above average. While he was not as explosive a skater as Bure, Mogilny’s tremendous agility allowed him to navigate smoothly throughout the open ice. His speed was also quite admirable. As a result, when carrying the puck into the offensive zone, he could frequently cut across the slot or maneuver into an open space to unleash his shot. Occasionally, though, he would catch the opponent unprepared, and would swiftly stickhandle through the defender. His hands allowed him to take advantage of his breakaways, regardless of whether he took a shot or backhanded the puck.

Defensively, he often remained at the right boards to provide an outlet for his defenders, and would fixate on guarding the point when defending in his own zone; on breakouts, he would rely on his teammates to provide him with a pass either as he left the defensive zone or as he rushed up neutral ice. His ability to send pucks across the ice, however, was quite useful when his team needed to transition quickly.

Alexander Mogilny, for the most part, was a very structured, calculated player, utilizing his patience, physicality, and creative passing plays to generate offense. Offensively, Alex often drifted within a designated area in the offensive zone and would rely particularly on plays from the right side and behind the net; his anticipation, meanwhile, permitted him to retrieve loose pucks and create second opportunities from behind the opposing net. He utilized his shot and side-to-side movement, as well as sneaky tactics to generate chances and would generally return to a number of preferred locations in the offensive zone if he was out of position. If he was freewheeling, however, Mogilny’s skill set allowed him to at times perform remarkable feats with the puck.

Without question, he was a different type of player from his two former-Soviet linemates. It is unfortunate, however, that more details about him have been forgotten than those of Bure and Fedorov. Though Mogilny’s game may not be as exhilarating as Pavel’s or as defensively-slick as Sergei’s, his presence as an intuitive, physical, creative sniper and playmaker should be recalled with fondness by fans of the former 76-goal scorer and Russian hockey legend.

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10-01-2012, 12:47 PM
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Pascha
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Alex's 95/96 season was such a magnificent year, he pretty much carried the team on his back while Bure was hurt.

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10-01-2012, 01:52 PM
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Barney Gumble
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Underrated (re: defensive ability) player.

While I would rather see Bure play as a fan; Mogilny could fit into any team system (eg., the sleep inducing Lemaire style) without chafing.

Gave great interviews as well.

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10-01-2012, 05:13 PM
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The biggest knock against Mogilny was his hostility to the media and the media made him pay! such as exaggerating some fear of flying while he was in Buffalo.

AlMo did everything that was asked for him Vancouver and stepped it up when Bure was injured or refused to play.

Unfortunately, many of the fans swallowed what the media was feeding them and would wish they had Peca back (some were legitimately surrpised that Peca would take a flying elbow to Ohlund's jaw because we in Vancouver "still liked him").

However, the hostility to the media endeared him to his team mates and the staff because he was so articulate and you always knew where he stood - he is a Russian after all. Combined with his talent on the ice he was a natural leader.

His other drawback, of course, was he always needed first line minutes and you couldn't have both him and Bure on the same line. For some reason in the NJ organization he kept on playing past his prime.

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10-01-2012, 05:29 PM
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Eddie Vedder
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Semi unrelated, but man has hockey changed since even the late 90s. Every aspect of the game now is jacked on steroids, and sniffs lines of meth for breakfast.

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10-02-2012, 03:07 AM
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I heard this guy used to smoke a ton and would still destroy his teammates in skating practices.

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10-02-2012, 04:13 AM
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OH MY GOD, what a pass at 1:40!! Brilliance

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10-02-2012, 04:17 AM
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Also, love that Canucks PP unit of Lumme, Tikkinen, Mogilny, Linden, and Naslund. Totally forgot about that.

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10-02-2012, 05:17 AM
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I remember being excited about his trade to the Canucks. Unfortunately, he didn't mesh well with Bure. He took the offensive reins when Bure was injured and during his hold out. His stay in Vancouver was mostly during a low point for the franchise, so his contributions get overlooked.

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10-02-2012, 05:24 AM
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Possibly the most unfairly maligned Canuck in franchise history, in terms of fan/media perception.

The general narrative most Canuck fans seem to have about Mogilny is 'Yeah, he was great in his first year when he was in his contract year, then he cashed in and floated the rest of the way and did nothing.'

And that's basically entirely wrong - for starters, his 55-goal season wasn't a contract year, but that's a myth that never seems to die.

He was quite simply never going to match his 55-goal, 110-point season in an NHL where scoring league-wide was falling like a rock through that stretch. By 1998-2000, a 40-40-80 season was a comparable effort.

And was Mogilny going to score 40-40-80 when he was playing on a line with Brad May and Peter Zezel? Fat chance. I've never seen an elite player have such consistently crap linemates for such a length of time as Mogilny had from 1996-2000. Just an endless parade of stiffs. He generally scored at a 70 point/82 GP clip under those conditions, though, which given the era was not bad.

It's not a coincidence that as soon as Mogilny got to a good franchise with good linemates in NJ, he immediately tore off a 43-goal season.

Injuries, of course, didn't help either, and he was extremely unlucky on that front his last few years in Vancouver.

As was noted previously, he always had a frosty relationship with the media, who then took every opportunity to run him down. And the fanbase opinion followed the media, as it usually does.

_________

Biggest thing Mogilny gets no credit for is his defensive play.

His defensive instincts were absolutely unreal. One of the best forecheckers I've ever seen - would just look like he was floating into the offensive zone, but his positioning was flawless and he'd break up/deflect more outlet passes than any player I've ever seen.

Mogilny was a funny player in terms of effort level. He wasn't a Kovalev, but obviously wasn't a guy who skated through walls either. Was like he was always at 95%.

If he'd played at 100% in all 3 zones all the time, I have little doubt he could have been a Selke contender a la Fedorov. As it was, he was still very good, as shown by how seamlessly he fit in under Lemaire in NJ.

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10-12-2012, 12:35 AM
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MarkusNaslund19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MS View Post
Possibly the most unfairly maligned Canuck in franchise history, in terms of fan/media perception.

The general narrative most Canuck fans seem to have about Mogilny is 'Yeah, he was great in his first year when he was in his contract year, then he cashed in and floated the rest of the way and did nothing.'

And that's basically entirely wrong - for starters, his 55-goal season wasn't a contract year, but that's a myth that never seems to die.

He was quite simply never going to match his 55-goal, 110-point season in an NHL where scoring league-wide was falling like a rock through that stretch. By 1998-2000, a 40-40-80 season was a comparable effort.

And was Mogilny going to score 40-40-80 when he was playing on a line with Brad May and Peter Zezel? Fat chance. I've never seen an elite player have such consistently crap linemates for such a length of time as Mogilny had from 1996-2000. Just an endless parade of stiffs. He generally scored at a 70 point/82 GP clip under those conditions, though, which given the era was not bad.

It's not a coincidence that as soon as Mogilny got to a good franchise with good linemates in NJ, he immediately tore off a 43-goal season.

Injuries, of course, didn't help either, and he was extremely unlucky on that front his last few years in Vancouver.

As was noted previously, he always had a frosty relationship with the media, who then took every opportunity to run him down. And the fanbase opinion followed the media, as it usually does.

_________

Biggest thing Mogilny gets no credit for is his defensive play.

His defensive instincts were absolutely unreal. One of the best forecheckers I've ever seen - would just look like he was floating into the offensive zone, but his positioning was flawless and he'd break up/deflect more outlet passes than any player I've ever seen.

Mogilny was a funny player in terms of effort level. He wasn't a Kovalev, but obviously wasn't a guy who skated through walls either. Was like he was always at 95%.

If he'd played at 100% in all 3 zones all the time, I have little doubt he could have been a Selke contender a la Fedorov. As it was, he was still very good, as shown by how seamlessly he fit in under Lemaire in NJ.
Disagree with this. Mogilny was outstanding in his first year here, and then never really showed the same degree of effort after that. In fact, I think a big part of it was effort. If you look at Mogilny from 97-99, and then look at him in his renaissance in New Jersey he looks like he weighs about 25 lbs lighter.

In fact, his holdout in 97-98 really seemed to precipitate a huge drop off in his play for a couple of years.

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