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US Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 1998

Mike "Lefty" Curran
Bruce Mather
Joe Mullen
Louis "Lou" Nanne

1998 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Mike “Lefty” Curran has long been regarded as one of the greatest American goaltenders of all time.  Curran achieved success at the high school, college and Olympic levels. He also starred in the World Hockey Association in the 1970s.

Curran began his illustrious career as an All-State goalie at International Falls, MN in the early 1960s, where, in addition to posting a goals against average of 0.78 in the 1961 season, (which was a Minnesota record at one time), led his Broncos to a pair of state high school hockey championships.

After playing for a season with the Green Bay Bobcats, of the USHL, Curran decided to attend the University of North Dakota.  There the sturdy goaltender led the Sioux to a pair of NCAA Championship games, losing to future Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden and Cornell, in 1967, and Keith Magnusson’s Denver Pioneers in 1968.  The All-WCHA keeper’s 2.98 G.A.A. at UND ranked third on the school’s all-time list. 

From there he went on to represent the United States seven times in International competition, second only to John Mayasich’s then nine appearances. Curran was named as the MVP of the 1972 silver medal winning Olympic Team, in Sapporo, Japan, as his 51-save performance against the Czechs is thought to rival any goaltending performance in Olympic history.

After the Olympics, Curran enjoyed a successful career with the Minnesota Fighting Saints, where, from 1973-77, he stood strong between the pipes.  He finally retired from competition in 1977, but not before being named as the Goalie of the 1970s on the USA All-Time Team.

1998 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Bruce Mather began his hockey career in Belmont, MA, where he starred for Belmont High School.  Known by the nickname “Little Poison”, for his deceptive speed and quick shot, Mather went on to play collegiately at Dartmouth, in 1943, where he earned a reputation as one of the Ivy League’s greatest players of his generation.

Mather centered a line with Ralph Warburton and Bruce Cunliffe which led Dartmouth in scoring for two years.  He even led Dartmouth to their astonishing 46-game undefeated streak.  In 1947, he led the big Green with 56 points, as the team finished with an outstanding 16-2-2 record, which included a huge win over Michigan, at Ann Arbor that year, sparked by Mather’s game-winning goal.  And, although there was no NCAA Tourney, Dartmouth claimed the No. 1 ranking in the country that year as well.

In the 1948 Olympics held in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Mather led the United States in scoring and helped the team place fourth in the Games.  He was also a member of the 1949 U.S. National Team in the World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden.  The highlight for Mather in these Games came in the contest against Austria, when he tallied an impressive five goals in a 9-1 win.

Mather continued his career in the Eastern League with the Boston Olympics, where he was selected “All-League” center.  In addition, he was considered one of the best Americans in a predominantly Canadian league. The team regularly played against the likes of Eastern powers such as the New York Rovers, Baltimore and Atlantic City, as well as Canadian powers from the Quebec Senior Leagues too.

After playing for the Boston Olympics, Mather signed with the Boston Bruins in 1950 and later frequently suited-up with the “old time Bruins” for benefit games.  In later years, Mather coached various youth teams.  Tragically, Mather passed away suddenly in October, 1975 at the age of 49.  He was a true friend to the game of hockey. It was later said that if there was a lady Byng Trophy (for sportsmanship) for amateur players, he would have won it, hands down.

1998 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

At the time of his retirement in 1997, Joe Mullen had scored more goals (502) and points (1,063) than any American-born player in NHL history.  He earned three Stanley Cups, two Lady Byng Trophies, a Lester Patrick Award and a First Team All-Star berth in his career. He was also inducted in to the Toronto Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000. 

Mullen is a native of New York City and grew up playing roller hockey in the “Hell’s Kitchen” section of Manhattan.  After playing four years of junior hockey, he went on to play collegiately at Boston College, where he became an All-American in both 1978 and 1979. As a junior, in 1978, he even led the Eagles to the NCAA championship game against rival Boston University.

Following college, Mullen was recruited to be a member of the fabled 1980 U.S. Olympic “Miracle on Ice” team that won the gold medal at Lake Placid. However, because his father was ill at the time, he opted to instead turn pro and use the new income to help out his family.  In August of 1979, he signed with the Blues.  He was sent down to the CHL for two seasons though, where he proceeded to win both the Rookie of the Year and league MVP awards, respectively.

From there, he made the jump to the NHL, where, over the next 15 years, he would play with the Blues, Flames, Penguins and Bruins.  The speedy and tough goal-scorer was a big fan-favorite wherever he played, and his never-say-die attitude made him a winner both on the ice and off.

Perhaps his most memorable season came in 1989, when he led the Calgary Flames to their first-ever Stanley Cup, and in the process, he was named as a first-team All-Star, received the Lady Byng Trophy (for sportsmanship), and led the league in plus-minus as well.  Then, in 1995, he became the first American-born player to ever score 1,000 points in an NHL career.

Fellow United States Hockey Hall of Fame member, the late Bob Johnson, once said of Mullen when the Penguins acquired him for a second round pick in 1990, “I’d go to war with Joe Mullen.”

Mullen retired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1997, at the tender young age of 40.  In addition, Mullen’s brother, Brian, was also in the NHL.

1998 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Lou Nanne has one of the most storied careers of any American who has been involved in the game of ice hockey.  Aside from being an All-Star player with the North Stars, he was also very involved with the game as an administrator.  He served as the team’s General Manager for more than a decade, was a member of the International Committee for USA Hockey and also served as Vice President of the NHL Players Association—as a member of the NHL Board of Governors, as a player, coach, GM, and president of the North Stars.

Louie grew up playing Junior hockey with hall of famer’s Phil and Tony Esposito.  From there he went on to become a member of the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher hockey team from 1959-63, under legendary Coach John Mariucci.  There, in 1963, he earned All-American honors in addition to winning the league MVP and the scoring championship.

After graduating from the U of M, he was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks. But, after a contract dispute, Nanne opted to play for the local Rochester Mustangs of the USHL, while pursuing business interests in the Twin Cities.

Then, in 1968, Nanne served as the captain of the U.S. Olympic Team. (He would also go on to captain of the 1975 and 1977 USA World National teams, while serving as the assistant captain of Team USA in the 1976, 1981, 1984 and 1987 Canada Cup tournaments, as well as in the 1994 World Championship.)

After the 1968 Olympics, Nanne joined his hometown expansion North Stars, where he would emerge as the team’s first star.  Over his 11 year NHL career with the North Stars, including playoffs, he tallied 72 goals and 167 assists for 239 points.  From there, he became one of the league’s shrewdest GM’s, running the team until 1990.  His 24-year run with the Stars was legendary.

A true friend to the game of hockey, Nanne has received numerous awards and honors, among them being named to the 50 year WCHA All-Star team, and being awarded the prestigious Lester Patrick Award in 1980 for his outstanding service to hockey in the U.S.  Nanne served as Executive Vice President for Voyageur Asset Management in Minneapolis. He has become synonymous with the game of hockey in Minnesota, and is a real American hero.