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The History of Hockey Relive great moments in hockey history and discuss how the game has changed over time.

Joe Mullen vs. Brian Propp

View Poll Results: who was the better player?
Joe Mullen 15 55.56%
Brian Propp 12 44.44%
Voters: 27. You may not vote on this poll

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Old
05-18-2013, 10:18 AM
  #1
vadim sharifijanov
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Joe Mullen vs. Brian Propp

discussion spilling out from the bondra HHOF thread. i don't have time to write out pros and cons right now, but i can see both sides and think it's very close.

in lieu of saying something new right now:

Quote:
Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
no, mullen shouldn't have been first ballot over hawerchuk. that's crazy. but i don't think he was as "hall of very good" as his resume looks in retrospect. compared to other 1,000 point scorers of his generation like federko, andreychuk, ciccarelli, gartner, nieuwendyk, he was definitely a cut above. his offensive peak was higher than all those guys, defensively he's definitely the best of that group, and how often did any of those guys even sniff a first team all-star appearance? mullen has a first place finish at RW, along with a 3rd, 4th, and 5th. his direct competitors at RW, gartner and dino, only finished higher than mullen four times between them, all in career years. for his era, mullen was probably behind only bossy, kurri, and anderson as the fourth best RW of the 80s. (fwiw, either gartner, dino, or tim kerr would likely be fifth.)

mullen was also an excellent playoff performer. in his first two trips to the finals, he finished third and second in playoff scoring. he also led the league in playoff goals both times.

i think the best comparison to mullen career-wise is brian propp. a borderline HHOF guy at best, admittedly. but mullen is basically propp with an elite offensive peak and three cups, two as a key contributor. a clear low-rung hall of famer in my books.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MS View Post
I'd say Brian Propp was generally a better player than Joe Mullen.

He didn't have a 110 point season (although his 1985-86 year, with 97 points in 72 games, would have been close if not for injury) but was better than Mullen offensively otherwise for the most part, while also being a better defensive and more physical player.

Both guys were great in the playoffs, but Mullen was lucky and Propp was unlucky on their long playoff runs. Propp actually scored 42 more playoff points than Mullen but Mullen won 3 cups to Propp's 0.

alright, let's have at it.

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Old
05-18-2013, 12:30 PM
  #2
Hardyvan123
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Pretty close for me but i'll take Mullen for two reasons.

1) he had the longer prime and

2) He started his career a bit alte at 24 and it's pretty clear he was ready before then. Not sure what teh Blues were thinking by keeping him down in Salt Lake for 2 and 1/2 seasons, did his soul need cleansing or something?

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05-18-2013, 12:35 PM
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MS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Pretty close for me but i'll take Mullen for two reasons.

1) he had the longer prime and

2) He started his career a bit alte at 24 and it's pretty clear he was ready before then. Not sure what teh Blues were thinking by keeping him down in Salt Lake for 2 and 1/2 seasons, did his soul need cleansing or something?
Both guys had essentially a 12-year prime - Mullen from 1983-1995 and Propp from 1979-1991. As you say, though, strangely Mullen is older but his prime years started and finished later than Propp's.

Career numbers are incredibly similar - 1004 points in 1016 games vs. 1062 points in 1063 games.

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05-18-2013, 12:44 PM
  #4
thom
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Very close Propp was named to all time junior team in 1999 but overal I take Mullen

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05-18-2013, 01:33 PM
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Pretty close for me but i'll take Mullen for two reasons.

1) he had the longer prime and

2) He started his career a bit alte at 24 and it's pretty clear he was ready before then. Not sure what teh Blues were thinking by keeping him down in Salt Lake for 2 and 1/2 seasons, did his soul need cleansing or something?
Perhaps Mullen's less than traditional hockey upbringing had something to do with him proceedingly slowly through the Blues organization.

Forget about the roller hockey stuff in NYC, in the late 70's it was still somewhat novel for a US born college player to jump quickly into the NHL, even when coming from a powerhouse like Boston College.

Even BC didn't buy completely into Mullen at first. He initially received only a partial scholarship and had to shell out some of his own dime to attend school.

Then again, St. Louis also had Paul Maclean (from Dalhousie in Halifax) and they made him wait too before tossing him away to Winnipeg in a Scott Campbell deal. So perhaps the Blues weren't big on college players, although Maclean also played in the Q.

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05-18-2013, 01:52 PM
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Hardyvan123
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianscot View Post
Perhaps Mullen's less than traditional hockey upbringing had something to do with him proceedingly slowly through the Blues organization.

Forget about the roller hockey stuff in NYC, in the late 70's it was still somewhat novel for a US born college player to jump quickly into the NHL, even when coming from a powerhouse like Boston College.

Even BC didn't buy completely into Mullen at first. He initially received only a partial scholarship and had to shell out some of his own dime to attend school.

Then again, St. Louis also had Paul Maclean (from Dalhousie in Halifax) and they made him wait too before tossing him away to Winnipeg in a Scott Campbell deal. So perhaps the Blues weren't big on college players, although Maclean also played in the Q.
That would be my guess and he had first round Blair Chapman blocking him, when it was pretty clear even in 80-81ish who was the better sniper.

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05-18-2013, 08:53 PM
  #7
seventieslord
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Easily Propp. The offensive numbers are even but the offense is in Propp's favour when you consider team and linemate context, and he did literally everything else better.

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05-21-2013, 10:02 AM
  #8
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Propp for me.

Great and underappreciated player.

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05-21-2013, 11:07 AM
  #9
MadArcand
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Clearly Propp.

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05-21-2013, 11:23 AM
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
when you consider team and linemate context
I thought we weren't allowed to do that?

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05-21-2013, 01:33 PM
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Easily Propp. The offensive numbers are even but the offense is in Propp's favour when you consider team and linemate context, and he did literally everything else better.
Their point production is similar, but Mullen has a pretty clear advantage as a goal scorer, so I don't think you can say that their overall numbers are even.

Propp does have an advantage in everything that isn't offense though.

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05-21-2013, 04:56 PM
  #12
Darth Yoda
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Their point production is similar, but Mullen has a pretty clear advantage as a goal scorer, so I don't think you can say that their overall numbers are even.

Propp does have an advantage in everything that isn't offense though.
Plus that Mullen is a much cooler individual story and that he played for the Pens. He got my vote and it was'nt even close. I always vote for swedes and Pens in these more gimmicky polls, as on NHL.com.

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05-21-2013, 06:00 PM
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seventieslord
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Their point production is similar, but Mullen has a pretty clear advantage as a goal scorer, so I don't think you can say that their overall numbers are even.

Propp does have an advantage in everything that isn't offense though.
Meh, it's not like we're talking about two players with really disproportionate ratios here.

It should be noted that in the playoffs, Propp needed just 17 more games to score 42 more points than Mullen did.

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05-21-2013, 06:39 PM
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Meh, it's not like we're talking about two players with really disproportionate ratios here.

It should be noted that in the playoffs, Propp needed just 17 more games to score 42 more points than Mullen did.
Yup. Took me about 2 seconds flat to choose Propp here.

The fact he was a LW just makes him even more relatively valuable.

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05-21-2013, 08:54 PM
  #15
Big Phil
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If I had to pick one, I'll go with Mullen. But the whole thing can make a good argument to be honest. Mullen is a HHOFer that a lot of people don't agree with. Propp is not a HHOFer and there are a few who think he should be in there (I don't). At the end of the day I think you have to look at Mullen's 1989 season and that swings it in his favour for me at least. If only ever so slightly.

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05-22-2013, 11:51 AM
  #16
tony d
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Brian Propp. Mullen was a better scorer but Propp was the more complete hockey player.

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05-22-2013, 01:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Meh, it's not like we're talking about two players with really disproportionate ratios here.

It should be noted that in the playoffs, Propp needed just 17 more games to score 42 more points than Mullen did.
Keep in mind, Propp didn't play a playoff game after his 33rd birthday. At that point his career, Mullen had 75pt in 80 playoff games, very similar PPG to Propp, who had 148 in 160. Chances are if Propp plays as long as Mullen and is in the playoffs as often as Mullen post 33 years old, his playoff PPG also falls off.

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05-22-2013, 02:35 PM
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psycho Papa Joe View Post
Keep in mind, Propp didn't play a playoff game after his 33rd birthday. At that point his career, Mullen had 75pt in 80 playoff games, very similar PPG to Propp, who had 148 in 160. Chances are if Propp plays as long as Mullen and is in the playoffs as often as Mullen post 33 years old, his playoff PPG also falls off.
Similar PPG but you have to give Propp credit for maintaining it over literally twice as many playoff games.

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05-22-2013, 03:10 PM
  #19
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Career value Mullen, but prime is Propp. Underrated 80s guy.

I bet far more opponents were frustrated by playing against Propp than they were by playing against Mullen.

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05-23-2013, 01:41 PM
  #20
vadim sharifijanov
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thanks for the responses. here's my take:

i agree with the position that propp was better than mullen at all non-offensive aspects of the game.

- defensively: mullen was underrated but not in propp's league. propp was a very good defensive winger; not selke calibre (he only ever got fringe selke votes), but still easily better than mullen

- penalty killing: mullen again was underrated in this regard, but didn't regularly kill penalties for the first half of his career while propp killed penalties most of his career and was one of the best penalty killing forwards with poulin

- physicality: mullen was a lady byng guy but was a bit more physical than he's given credit for and definitely not a perimeter guy, but again propp has a huge edge here



awards:

LW was generally the weaker position than RW in the 80s. both guys played the entire decade and here are the AST finishes:

1, 3, 4, 5 (mullen) vs. 4, 4, 4 (propp)

the guys they respectively finished behind in AST voting multiple times in their top five years:

mullen-- bossy, kurri, kerr (but he also had an AST in '92 where he finished behind hull and recchi)

propp-- goulet, ogrodnick

hart votes are a wash (one single third place vote for each)

the AST thing isn't conclusive, and could mean a bunch of things (for instance, that propp was underrated), but the fact stands: in two of his three best years, propp was considered behind ogrodnick for the best LWs in the league. to compare, mullen was routinely voted a better RW than ciccarelli and gartner.

but here's one way to look at it: would you take propp over goulet? probably not. messier? absolutely not. ogrodnick? almost certainly. tonelli? tough call, but i say yes.

would you take mullen over bossy or kurri? absolutely not. kerr? counting health, very probably. gartner and ciccarelli? very probably.

(glenn anderson is a wash because at times he competed against, and finished above, both guys in AST voting)

by all calculations that don't include makarov and krutov (whole other can of worms), they're both the 3rd/4th best winger at their position through the 80s, depending on whether you count anderson as LW or RW. but the field of competition was much steeper for mullen and he had better players pushing him from below.


Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Easily Propp. The offensive numbers are even but the offense is in Propp's favour when you consider team and linemate context, and he did literally everything else better.

raw points:

97, 97, 92, 91, 82, 78, 76, 75, 73, 67, 66

110, 92, 90, 87, 87, 85, 84, 70, 70, 69, 59


adjusted points:

77, 76, 73, 66, 66, 65, 64, 63, 63, 57, 51

91, 77, 74, 73, 70, 70, 67, 64, 64, 58, 57


not a huge difference, but there's a difference in peak and in "average" years. if we qualify propp's totals with his defensive team and linemates, then wouldn't we also qualify his defensive prowess with the same? not saying the eye test doesn't show propp to be a very good defensive winger, which he was, but the center he played with the most (pouliln) was a selke winner. he broke into the league playing alternately with ken linseman and friggin' bobby clarke. by the time propp starts killing penalties (year 3 or 4), he'd been groomed to do so by that organization in a way that mullen never got. but man was he good at it.

which is not to say that i really want to get into "propp had situational advantages which qualifies his defensive edge" anymore than i want to get into "mullen had situational advantages which qualifies his offensive edge." both had very good situations and they both did what they did. they both played with multiple hall of famers, including most of their primes with norris-calibre hall of fame defensemen, and they both had team success they wouldn't have had they spent more time on weaker teams. both also were the motors behind some, not all, of their deep playoff runs.

but the offensive difference, which isn't huge but exists, as well as mullen's clear edge as a goal scorer, is real and, i think, can't be qualified away anymore than propp's defensive or physical edge can be.


playoffs:

in their primes, both were key guys who led very good teams in scoring. propp obviously has the edge early on, before mullen was in the league. but then propp finished 2nd, 4th, and 7th in points, 2nd, 3rd, and 11th in goals. mullen finished 3rd, 3rd, and 5th in points, 1st, 1st, and 10th in goals. pretty even at the top. you can say, well mullen had the advantage of not competing against oilers for points in his best playoff years, but then mullen eliminated the oilers in '86 so you can only call so much of it luck.

obviously, propp has the early lead because he was putting up good (but not great) points on a still strong post-dynasty flyers team at ages when mullen wasn't even in the NHL yet. but in the end, if you cut off mullen's years after 33, which only seems fair, both guys are slightly sub-PPG in over 100 playoff games. yes, propp played in a lot more playoff games if you cut mullen's career off after his second cup, but still 103 games (52 goals, 92 points) is a pretty big sample. obviously you give propp credit for the extra games, but i don't think they make a huge difference at the end of the day given the difference in circumstances entering the league (OHL superstar stepping onto a team with clarke, barber, macleish, linseman, and leach) vs. undrafted college guy killing everyone in the minors just to be given a shot in the bigs, and when he finally gets called up at age 24 puts up 25 goals, 59 points in the remaining 45 games, and finishes 5th in points, 10th in goals in that same year's playoffs.


my gut still says mullen, but i'm willing entertain too close to call for a bit longer.


Last edited by vadim sharifijanov: 05-23-2013 at 01:47 PM.
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