Two of the University of Denver hockey stars are not even pioneers of hockey in their own families. Freshman Patrick Mullen and sophomore Paul Stastny are following in the skate marks of their hall of fame fathers, Joe Mullen and Peter Stastny.
The elder Mullen is a New York native who played over 16 seasons in the NHL with St. Louis, Calgary, Pittsburgh and Boston. The senior Stastny was born in Slovakia and also played 16 seasons in the NHL from 1980 to 1995 with Quebec, New Jersey and St. Louis.
Between the two they have scored more than 1043 NHL goals and more than 1,400 assists in a combined 2,275 playoff and regular season games.
At the age of just three, Patrick Mullen had already picked up one of those small wooden sticks and was skating around the practice facilities of the Calgary Flames and working on his puck handling skills. After living the first years of his life in Calgary, younger Mullen and his siblings, older brothers Mike and Ryan and younger sister Erin moved to the final stop of their dad’s career, Pittsburg.
Mullen graduated from Upper St. Clair High School on the honor roll and continued his hockey play with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL.
The father of the freshman forward started his hockey career in New York City and got an in with the New York Rangers when his brother Brian, who had a job as a stick boy, came in contact with Head Coach Emile Francis.
Mullen got a scholarship to Boston College and was going to try out for the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team and eventual Miracle on Ice Olympic gold medalists. Instead of trying out, Mullen decided that he needed to support his family financially and turned pro.
He signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Blues where Francis was coaching and scored 25 goals and 24 assists in 45 games of his first NHL season in 1981-82. Mullen would go on to score over 500 career goals, 550 assists and 1, 063 points in 1,062 career games.
“It was tough to have my dad always gone on the road and busy in the NHL, but when he was home it was great to just hang out with him and play street hockey with my brothers, and I grew up always wanting to be like him,” said Patrick Mullen.
Mullen was also the first American hockey player to score 500 career goals, and put in his 500th goal against Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver on March 14, 1997. To finish off his accomplishments he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000 and has won three Stanley Cups (one with Calgary and two with the Penguins). He is currently an assistant coach for a farm team of the Pittsburg Penguins.
“Probably when the Stanley Cup was at our house, when he scored his 500th goal and when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame have to be my favorite moments,” said the younger Mullen.
Now moving on to the Stastny family, where the elder was the most prolific scorer in the NHL in the 1980s and is the father of two young budding stars. Older son, Yan Stastny, just completed his first season in the NHL playing for the Boston Bruins scoring one goal and three assists in 20 games after playing two seasons for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Younger son Paul just completed his second season as a forward for the Pioneers and has scored 36 goals and 62 assists for DU in two years.
“I am very lucky to have a dad that played in the NHL, and I am very fortunate and there are a lot of people that would love to be in my shoes,” said the DU student.
Paul began his young hockey career skating around the ponds behind his house in Quebec and shooting the black pucks into the tin garbage cans.
The Stastny family then moved to New Jersey while Peter played for the Devils and then finally settled in St. Louis, where the elder Stastny played his final two years in the NHL.
Paul graduated from Millard North High School in Omaha, Neb. and then played for the River City Lancers of the USHL. Stastny also helped the United States Junior Select Team to the silver medal at the 2004 Viking Cup in Camrose, Alberta.
“My dad has always told me to work hard on my weaknesses and even harder on my strengths, to have fun, that family is always the most important and to make sure I have my values straight,” said the Pioneer.
Peter Stastny was born in Bratislava, Slovakia and defected to Canada with his brother Anton to play for the Quebec Nordiques in 1980. Stastny became one of the first European hockey stars in the NHL and scored 39 goals and 70 assists in 77 games in his first season in 1980-1981. Stastny then went on to score 450 goals and added 789 assists for a total of 1239 regular season points.
Stastny set many records including becoming the first NHL player to collect more than 100 points in his rookie season, second player to record 1,000 points in one decade, played in six NHL All-Star Games and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998.
Today Stastny is a politician serving as a member of the European Parliament for Slovakia.
Both Peter Stastny and Joe Mullen have written their names in hockey history and are two of the best skaters to ever lace up in the NHL, and their sons hope to just continue in their skate marks.