Mullen finally became an NHL regular in 1981–82 when he scored 59 points in 45 games for the Blues. He was traded to the Calgary Flames in 1986 where he enjoyed some of his best seasons, playing in the 1989 and 1990 NHL All-Star game as well as being named to the league first All-Star team in 1989 (he also was the NHL Plus/minus leader that season). He also won his first Stanley Cup as a member of the Flames in 1989. In 1990, the Flames foolishly traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a second round draft pick reasoning that at age 33, Mullen would soon be a spent force. Instead he was an important performer on the Pens' Stanley Cup winning teams of 1991 and 1992. During his time in Pittsburgh, Mullen also played in the 1994 NHL All-Star game. Mullen spent the 1995–96 season with the Boston Bruins as a free agent before returning to play his final NHL season in Pittsburgh in 1996–97.
Mullen played for Team USA at the 1984, 1987 and 1991 Canada Cup tournaments. He also won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1995 in recognition for his service to American hockey. Mullen retired in 1997 as the first the American born NHL player to score 500 goals(502). Joey was also the first American to reach 1,000 total career points (eventually reaching 1,063), a feat that has been equaled by only six other Americans.
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