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NHL Anaheim Ducks

Florida Panthers: Who is Peter Mueller?

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

One of the beautiful things about having NHL Center Ice is that I can just wander around catching snippets of various games when my favorite team isn’t playing. In the process, I’ve learned quite a bit about what kinds of commercials are shown in the Edmonton area (lots of things to do with oil refineries, but also these great ads with Jordan Eberle playing a sort of Robin Hood role for people in tough situations) and seen how many teams’ regional broadcasters cover games.

I also recently noticed this guy playing for the Florida Panthers. He had this amazing flow that descended down to his neck. He scored a goal against the Buffalo Sabres and I wondered aloud “Who is this guy?” Peter Mueller was his name, but I couldn’t remember having seen him much before. Still, the hair enticed me–as it did many other hockey fans on Twitter, ready with quips and jokes about its glory–and so now here is more about the man behind the flow.

Mueller was born in Bloomington, Minn. in April 1988. Back in the day, he went to Breck High School with another guy who would take much the same career path as him, Blake Wheeler. However, where Wheeler chose a different path to the NHL, Mueller went into the U.S. National Team Development Program for a year and then on to the Everett Silvertips of the WHL. The USNTDP is a powerhouse of talent and has pumped out guys like Ryan Kesler, Dustin Brown, Ryan Suter and Patrick Kane, another 1988 baby who wears the same number as Mueller.

Interestingly, both Wheeler and Mueller were drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round–Wheeler in 2004, Mueller in 2006–although Mueller stuck with them while Wheeler played it out in college before doing a Justin Schultz (long before Schultz was even really a concern) and signing with a different team.

Mueller spent three seasons in Phoenix after his time in juniors, breaking out with a 54-point rookie campaign in 2007-08. He cooled off in 2008-09 and 2009-10 as his production dropped and he requested a trade. So, he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in March 2010 and it lit a fire under him all over again. Consider: in just 17 games with the Avs in 2009-10, he scored 20 points, eclipsing his production in 54 games previously that season with Phoenix (17 points).

He struggled with concussions and post-concussive symptoms and missed the entirety of the 2010-11 season as a result, which may have dropped him off many fans’ radar. Symptoms and other injuries bedeviled him again in 2011-12, though, and he played just 32 games with 16 points scored.

After the season ended, he became an unrestricted free agent and signed a one-year deal with the Panthers in July 2012. He did not play anywhere during the lockout, but in nine games so far this season, the center already has four goals and an assist.

Here are a few highlights of Mueller:

http://youtu.be/EShP5ithgc8

This is the goal I saw.

http://youtu.be/CDtO48eU_8c

Mueller manages to keep the Philadelphia Flyers from earning a shutout.

http://youtu.be/hnTl68Xy-bc

In his first goal back after quite some time on the injured reserve, Mueller looks relieved to finally get that demon off his shoulder. Interestingly, he scores on his current teammate, Jose Theodore.

http://youtu.be/76H6EuBKPxA

A little more from Mueller in his own words.

Provided that he can stay healthy–his concussion history is somewhat worrisome–and continue to produce, he could help the struggling Panthers prowl back into the playoff race and possibly repeat their run from last season.