(Born on February 18, 1969) -- When it comes to dramatic entrances to Buffalo, Alexander Mogilny is in a class by himself.
Mogilny was one of the top young players in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, teaming up with Pavel Bure and Sergei Fedorov on national teams. However, Mogilny grew disenchanted with the Soviet hockey system, and went looking for a way out.
He found it in the spring of 1989, when he defected to the United States. The Sabres had drafted him 89th overall the previous year, and helped him make the cloak-and-dagger move that attracted worldwide publicity.
Mogilny put on uniform number 89 and debuted for the Sabres that fall. He scored a goal in his first game. The right winger overcame a fear of flying and soon became a star. Mogilny scored 76 goals for the Sabres in 1992-93.
The forward stayed through 1995, when he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks. Mogilny went on to play for the Devils and Maple Leafs. While 1992-93 was a tough act to follow, Mogilny still scored 473 goals in 990 games. It will be interesting to see if that’s enough to get him into the Hockey Hall of Fame some day.
--- Budd Bailey