March 26, 2016

Paul Mulvey

A dominant force in junior hockey with the Portland Winter Hawks, Paul Mulvey was drafted by the Washington Capitals 20th overall in the 1978 NHL Draft.

The large and intimidating younger brother of Chicago's Grant Mulvey, Paul Mulvey played a similar physical game. He was so strong, but also had excellent balance on his skates and could handle the puck well.

"You'll notice when the puck goes into their corner, he's always the first one in," said Ryan Walter, who centered Mulvey on a line with Mike Gartner in Washington in 1979-80. "He plays the body well, and he's gaining a tremendous amount of confidence."

Confidence was the key word. In his rookie season the year before Mulvey played only 55 games with the Capitals, scoring seven goals and four assists. But he was quickly falling into the trap of being known as a fighter more so than a complete hockey player. In year two he was much more aware of his role.

"I have basically just one job to do, and that's go into the corners and play the body," Mulvey said. When you only have to worry about one thing, the other things usually take care of themselves. In the past, I had to worry about skating, checking, shooting and playing the body. Now I just think about playing the body."

The opposing team's defense must have skated lightly into the corner with the imposing six-foot-four, 220 pound winger barrelling in after the puck.  Such as one game vs. St. Louis on March 5th, 1980 when he retrieved the puck and set up four goals all in the opening period of the game.

Mulvey finished the year with a respectable 15 goals, 34 points and a daunting 240 minutes in penalties.

Unfortunately Paul Mulvey was not able to carry that successful season any further. He regressed in his third season and then exited the Capitals organization. He had brief stints with Pittsburgh and Los Angeles but was spending more and more time in the minor leagues. He was out of hockey altogether by 1983.

Mulvey's exit from the NHL was not without controversy. While playing with the Kings in a game against Vancouver, LA head coach Don Perry ordered Mulvey to be the first person off of the bench to initiate a bench clearing brawl. Vancouver's tough guy Ron Delorme had already exited the penalty box to get involved, but Mulvey hesitated, knowing that the punishments for leading the brawl would be severe. Seconds later other Kings players eventually did leave the bench, and Mulvey followed and got involved. But Perry accused him of not supporting his teammates.

Word of Perry's orders got out in the media, resulting in a significant fine and suspension for Perry. It was extremely rare for any coach or team to be found guilty of instructing a player to fight, and as such the incident made national headlines.

Mysteriously, Paul Mulvey never played another NHL game after that.

Mulvey launched a $20 million lawsuit against the Kings, accusing them of blackballing him. A settlement was reached out of court.

Mulvey retired and returned to the Washington area, working as an account manger and business development director for several companies. He lives across the border in Virginia and coached locally.

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