Monday, September 26, 2011

Say it ain't so Mo

What a career. What a player. Never will we ever see another player like Mike Modano in the NHL again. He is the reason why Dallas is a successful hockey market to this day, he is the reason why Texas is aware about hockey, he is the reason why there are kids playing hockey in Texas, he is the reason why Dallas has 25 + hockey rinks since the Stars moved to Dallas when they only had 1 rink. I could go on for 24 hours of why Michael Modano is a one of a kind hockey player that will never see again and how much he influenced hockey in America but I won't because I am sure everyone knows how much he meant to the hockey world.

Watching that video gives me goosebumps and makes me wanna tear up. It's hard to believe he is retiring. Mike Modano was one of the main reasons why I became a die hard Stars fan and NHL fan to this day, and I am sure there are thousands or more who could say the same. If it wasn't for Modano, I don't think Dallas would have an NHL franchise today.

Took me a few days to make this post because quit frankly, I don't know how to put it. How to write it. I Just never felt like it was real to me when he retired. I've been watching Modano for the longest time, it's hard to accept that he has retired after 21 great years in the NHL.

It all started in Livonia, Michigan where a young boy at the age of 7 found the sport of hockey. From the very beginning he had tremendous talent. Mike was a hard worker and never gave up, he played in Youth hockey groups in his area and by the time he was 15 Mike found himself moving to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada.  From there on, he never looked back.

Mike Modano played three season in the WHL with the Raiders, he played a total of 176 games and tallied up 294 points (118 goals and 176 assists). Many coaches in the WHL couldn't believe they missed him and regret not picking him up. Prince Albert Raiders found a gem. In the 1988  NHL Entry Draft there was many speculation on who the Minnesota North Stars would select with their 1st overall pick. The discussion was between two young players, Trevor Linden or Michael Modano. It came down to the end to see who the North Stars would pick 

Mike Modano didn't make the jump to the NHL after being drafted, he decided he wasn't ready for the NHL just yet, so he played another year in the WHL getting 105 points in just 41 games. Although Mike did make his NHL debut that same year during the 88-89 playoffs where he suited up for just two games for the North Stars.

In Mike Modano's rookie year he played 80 games, getting 29 goals and 46 assists. Mike Modano would go on to lead the North Stars into a magical playoff run leading the Minnesota North Stars to the finals in 1990-1991 only to lose to the Penguins. Modano did all he could for Minnesota in his 5 year stint with the franchise, but it wasn't enough to get fans in their seats. Which lead to the move.

In 1993 Norm Green who already explored his options about moving the franchise in 1991, finally got it done. The Minnesota Franchise got moved to Dallas, Texas. At the time no one thought it would work in Dallas, Texas, but  boy were they wrong. Many will tell you to this day, Mike Modano made hockey work in Dallas, Texas. If it wasn't for Mike, Dallas might not have a franchise today.

In Modano's first year in Dallas, he tied a career high in points with 93 for the second straight year in a row, and had a career high in goals with 50. He would lead the Stars to the playoffs in their first year in Dallas shocking the hockey world eliminating the St.Louis Blues in four games and eventually losing to the Canucks in the second round. Mike gave a reason for fans to come and watch the Stars play, which is why the Stars became a successful franchise and still is to this day.

As the years past since the move, Texas was more aware of hockey and the NHL, parents started to enroll their kids in hockey, more rinks were being build. All because of the success the franchise was having and how much Modano was making an impact to the city and state of Texas. Modano was now the face of the franchise. His next goal, was to become a Stanley Cup Champion. The Stars 98-99 team was one of the best teams the NHL has ever seen, with players like Modano, Hull, Belfour, Nieuwendyk, Hatcher, Lehtinen, Carbonneau and many more and with Ken Hitchcock behind the bench and Bob Gainey as the manager they were heavy favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Modano and his Stars would go on to win the President Trophy for the second year in a row and reaching a franchise record with 116 points and 51 wins (still stands to this day for the Stars franchise). That same year saw Modano change his game to play a more defensive game and become a two way forward with the help of Bob Gainey and Ken Hitchcock. Modano and the Stars would sweep the Oilers in the first round, beat the Blues in the second round (thanks to Modano's game 6 overtime goal) and defeat the Colorado Avalanche in 7 games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since the move to Dallas.

All the pressure was on Modano to see if he can live up to the expectations. It was a long hard fought series that came down to game 6 in the third overtime where Brett Hull would put in a rebound past Hasek with Modano by his side. Mike Modano was finally a Stanley Cup Champion!

Mike Modano and the Stars would go till the end of next season to try and defend their title, but found themselves in a similar situation as last year but on the other end. The Stars would lose in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals in double overtime.

As Modano got older, he started breaking records and reaching milestones. Soon enough, he became America's Greatest Scorer to ever play in the NHL passing Phil Housley on the night he scored twice against Evgeni Nabokov and his Sharks.

Mike Modano's last game as a Dallas Star came in April of 2010 in the Stars last home game of the year against the Anaheim Ducks. That to me was the the most memorable game I've ever watched.

Stars last game would be against the Minnesota where Mike started his career, at the end of the game he was selected as the first star of the game and came out onto the ice with a vintage North Stars jersey. After that game both parties moved on in the off-season. Modano signed a one year contract with the Wings while Stars decided to go young. Modano's one year stint with the Wings didn't go as he planned when a wrist injury sat him out for most of the season. By the end of the 2011 season, he knew what he had to do.

Mike Modano officially announces his retirement on September 23rd after signing a one day contract with the Dallas Stars so he can officially retire as a Star.

It's been a dream career for Michael Modano, he became a face of a franchise, spent 20 of his 21 years with the same franchise, won a Stanley Cup and is an American Icon with the most points ever by an American born hockey player.

Thank you Mike, for all you have done for Dallas and hockey. I will miss watching that jersey flap while you skate, I will miss announcers say your name after getting the Stars a goal. You will be greatly missed, Thanks for the memories Mike Modano. Never will we see another player like you ever again. Number 9 forever.