With yesterday’s news that Mike Modano will sign with the Red Wings, it’s official that he will not retire as a Dallas Star. I wasn’t sure if that meant that this was the time for a tribute or if I should wait until he retires. I just felt that perhaps I should do it now, when my head and my heart are full of emotion.
Mo gave us a lot of stuff to remember him by in his 21 years with the Minnesota/Dallas organization. However, I narrowed the memories down to nine unforgettable ones, the memories that will linger years after he’s hung up the skates.
1. Those Hard Passes! Whenever a young guy was able to take a Modano pass well, I silently applauded them. Mo’s passes were creative, precise, and hard. Even as he showed signs of aging, those passes always remained the same- literal bullets.
2. November 7, 2007- The Night Mike Modano Became the All-Time American. I think that Ralph said it best: “And he’s alone at the top.”
It was such a great moment. The class those Sharks and their fans exuded was very nice, especially when you consider what the Trashville people did.
3. Mo’s Mighty Ducks cameo. Okay, I realize that the Mighty Ducks soon became our rivals, but whatever. I got a real kick out of seeing Mo and Basil McRae the first time I ever watched the movie. The first time I saw it was in elementary school, and I proudly pointed out to my classmates, “That’s Mike Modano, Dallas Star and the best hockey player in the world.”
Seventeen years after that humorous guest spot, Mo starred in his own show: his final home game in Dallas against- who else?- the Ducks. Funny how it sort of went full circle, isn’t it?
4. The Beauty. Mike was blessed with GQ looks and ended up on a few magazine covers in his career. He’s definitely gorgeous, but I never had a crush on him because he was like family. If that makes sense.
Even more surprising is the fact that he is still in possession of the same exact teeth he started with. Pretty neat, huh?
5. The Goal Celebration. While people like Alex Ovechkin and Teemu Selanne are famous for their unique goal celebrations, Modano never was. When Mo scored a goal, his celebration was simple and classy: a winning smile, stick in the air, and light in his eyes.
6. Modano, the Dallas icon. Few athletes have ever been as adored in Dallas as Mike Modano was. You have Emmit Smith, Troy Aikman, Nolan Ryan…and Mike Modano. Without Mo, hockey probably would never have made it in the South. For 21 years, Mo has been the face of the franchise, the one people always associate with the Stars.
Mike Modano is well loved in Dallas and he loves the city back. That’s why Detroit is his hometown, but Dallas is his home. There’s a difference.
7. The Class…and the Respect Mo Garnered Because of It. It’s safe to say that everyone likes (or at least respects) Mike Modano. Sure, you’ll get those angry fans who are like, “I hate Modano. He always beats my team!” Then they’ll grudgingly say, “But I respect him because he’s a class act.”
When those Sharks fans applauded Mo’s achievment as the all-time American, it was because they knew it couldn’t have happened to a classier guy. When Ruslan Salei nearly broke Mo’s neck and there was talk of retribution from the Stars, Mo calmly said that a better revenge would be to beat the Ducks. That’s Mo for you- classy and graceful.
Mike Modano proved that nice guys do finish first.
8. April 8, 2010- The Finale. We didn’t know it at the time, though we probably guessed it, but the Stars’ home finale was also Mo’s home finale. It was the best regular season game I’ve ever seen. I can’t describe it any better than I did on my game review.
Everything went perfectly, and I’m truly glad that that was Mo’s last game in Dallas as a member of the home team.
9. His Jersey Flapping in the Wind. On his best nights, Mike Modano flew. Streaking down the ice, carrying the puck, jersey flapping in the wind, Modano was Superman. It is that mental image of Mo flying and jersey flapping that I will take with me from his years in Dallas.
Someday, Mike will be back in Dallas. First, for his jersey retirement ceremony. Then, he’ll join the Stars’ front office and be back where he belongs.
Until then, I will carry with me these memories of Mo and wish him nothing but the best with the Wings. As long as he’s happy, I can’t be angry with him.
It’s been fun, #9. Go make some new memories.