When Mario Lemieux was drafted 1st overall in 1984, it was pretty much unanimous that he was the obvious first choice. He was to be the next great franchise player. The only player who anyone thought had a chance at knocking off big Mario for that top pick was Kirk Muller, who went 2nd to New Jersey.
"To me, Kirk Muller is the best player in the draft. The Devils really did it right," said a young Detroit Red Wings scout Neil Smith, years before he became a NHL general manager.
Many scouts might have agreed that Muller was in many ways better than Lemieux in some respects at that stage of their careers. NHL drafts are crap shoots at the best of times. While most accurately called Lemieux a can't miss prospect, history is full of stories of scoring superstars either being boom or bust. Obviously he was boom - a very loud boom!
Muller on the other hand was considered a safe pick. He had some good offensive tools, but nowhere near the upside of Mario. He was a tireless worker, and physical forward, a versatile leader who would and did do anything to win. It was thought that he may not score 50 goals or 100 points, but he'd give his all, give his heart and soul.
Though he was no Mario, Muller certainly did not disappoint. Desire and determination became his NHL trademarks, and made him an outstanding leader. He would hustle right until the final buzzer no matter what the score was.
Read the full Kirk Muller biography