April 4, 2020

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Mullen strolls down memory lane

Had blast on ice, living with Arniel in Ducky's pad

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Jets alumni team member Brian Mullen gets his slapper back into shape Friday at the MTS Centre.</p>


Winnipeg Jets alumni team member Brian Mullen gets his slapper back into shape Friday at the MTS Centre.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/10/2016 (1261 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The five seasons he spent in Winnipeg are half a lifetime away now, but Brian Mullen has vivid recollections of his start in the NHL.

In 1982, fresh from two seasons at the University of Wisconsin, a 20-year-old Mullen gravitated to a pair of other young guns on the Jets — 19-year-old Dale Hawerchuk and Scott Arniel, 20.

"We kind of bonded, lived together at Dale’s place (in Tuxedo)," said the 54-year-old Mullen, who will play for the Jets squad in today’s Heritage Classic alumni game against the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field.

"We were just three young guys having a great time in Winnipeg and (teammate) Serge Savard was our neighbour. He and his wife kinda took care of us. Serge was two doors down and his wife was either doing our laundry or cooking these great meals for us. Serge would take us out on the road and teach us about wine tasting."

Mullen, a left-winger, also made connections on the ice, combining with future Hall of Fame centre Hawerchuk and right-winger Paul MacLean to form the club’s most potent scoring line.

"I played with Dale and Paul MacLean for most of that time and we clicked right off the bat," he said, adding MacLean is unable to play in the alumni game because of his responsibilities as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks. "He really wishes he could be here."

Mullen left Winnipeg for home in New York for the 1987-88 season, playing four seasons with the Rangers before finishing his career with the San Jose Sharks and, in 1992-93, with the New York Islanders.

The end of his career, however, was shocking. In the summer of 1993, Mullen suffered a stroke caused by a blood clot in his brain. The stroke severely limited his mobility for a time. Unbeknownst to Mullen, he had been born with a hole in his heart and once the problem was diagnosed, he underwent open-heart surgery to repair the defect.

He planned a comeback but it wasn’t to be. He suffered a seizure in 1994 and made a decision to retire for good.

"One year when I was playing with the Islanders I got hit in the calf with a puck or a stick... and developed a clot," said Mullen, who has a large scar on his chest as a souvenir but no other lingering effects of the ordeal. "The clot shot up, passed through the hole in my heart and into my brain...

"But everything happens for a reason. I got into coaching with the kids and worked for the NHL for a couple of years. I had no regrets."

Mullen, who currently works as a stagehand for CBS in New York, remains close to the game. He continues to do PR for the Rangers and his brother Joey is an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers.

He waxes nostalgic thinking about those old Smythe Division battles between the Jets and Oilers.

"That’s all I remember," he said. "We played those guys eight times a season. Played them in exhibition, played them in playoffs, so that was a huge rivalry."

He’ll get another shot at Investors Group Field.

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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