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Mogilny wins style points off ice, too - Toronto Star
Leafs hotshot shows he cares for his teammates
As a 15-year-old, Alyn McCauley watched Alexander Mogilny's 76-goal season unfold on television.
Then, as an NHL playoff opponent, he grudgingly marvelled at his own team's inability to shut the sniper down.
But what impressed McCauley most, when the two finally shared a Leafs' training camp, had nothing to do with what Mogilny could do with the puck on the ice.
McCauley didn't know what to expect but he was "shocked or, at least pleasantly surprised" by Mogilny's humble, caring approach with his teammates when he arrived in Toronto in 2001.
This was no arrogant hotshot in Toronto only to collect a paycheque. This, concluded McCauley, was a veteran player truly willing to do whatever he could to help the Leafs win.
"He shouldn't have known me from a hole in the wall, really, yet he was trying to get me to play better. I'd only played 14 games in the NHL the previous year but he was really encouraging me and patting me on the back. I was really impressed with his attitude," McCauley recalled.
Mogilny bailed out the Leafs in a huge way on Tuesday, scoring the 16th hat trick of his career — Wayne Gretzky, by the way, holds the NHL record with 50 — to help Toronto salvage a brutal homestand with a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay.
The outburst came after a couple of poor outings from Mogilny and will, undoubtedly, give credence to those who believe the 33-year-old can turn it on at will and be as good as he wants to be.
However, ask his teammates about Mogilny and the responses usually have nothing to with his terrific shot or uncanny passing ability.
Instead, they prefer to focus on the right winger's willingness to be a solid two-way player despite skills that place him among the best in the game and on his unselfish approach on and off the ice.
It's the kind of leadership that doesn't come with a letter but it is an integral ingredient for a team that has aspirations beyond just scraping into the playoffs.
"I think when he went from Vancouver to New Jersey, he learned what it took to win championships,'' said Shayne Corson. "Sure he has tremendous skills. He's a phenomenal talent. But the biggest thing I've noticed about him is that he is a good team guy and he loves to win. He likes to see his teammates do well and he tries to help them as much as he can."
Over the last 10 years, Mogilny has become a complete player. He doesn't just play offence. And it is that ability to adapt, to change his game to suit the times, that may be Mogilny's greatest attribute.
The winger says he has little choice but to evolve from the pure goal scorer he was in his early days.
"If you don't the game will pass you by," he said.
"The game is always changing. When you score 76 goals, people expect you to score 70 or 60 every year. You've got to realize it's impossible unless you're Mario (Lemieux) and even Mario didn't do it every year, so it's difficult.
"Everything changed. I got older, heavier and slower. Lost confidence here and there. The game got faster. The players got bigger and stronger and the goalies got bigger and better. And I was just going along."
And where Mogilny ended up was with New Jersey, a team that seemed an unlikely fit given the organization's defensive approach to the game.
But Mogilny's game again evolved and, in two post-seasons there, he was an integral part of a Stanley Cup winner and another club that made it to the final.
Mogilny calls them the best two years of his professional career and it is that feeling of success that he is hoping to share with his teammates in Toronto.
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