World champion. Stanley Cup Champion. When you’ve reached the pinnacle, there really is nothing left to accomplish. However, when you’re the best at your craft from the country in which you were born, it’s only natural that you are forever enshrined. So is the life of Mike Modano. Tonight, in the town, and really state, in which he made a “hockey town,” Modano will join Eddie Olczyk and Lou Lamoriello as the 2012 USA Hockey Hall of Fame induction class in Dallas, Tx.
But ask any of the “experts,” and they’ll tell you that when it comes to matters of hockey in the south, the first to be mentioned is Wayne Gretzky traded from Edmonton to Los Angeles. Make no doubt about it, when the greatest player ever gets traded to the Golden State, named for its plethora of sunshine does a great deal for the game south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
However, Gretzky had seen his prime. Although still a force to be dealt with on the ice, Wayne was becoming a figurehead; an ambassador if you will. Mike Modano, however had only been in the league for five years and was handed the reins of a team and told that was moving from Minnesota down to Dallas, TX.
A place known for its hot summers and Dallas Cowboys was about to get a taste of “icing” and “five minute majors.” Wayne Gretzky may have been given the responsibility to introduce the game to the south; it was Mike Modano who was given the responsibility to cultivate and grow it. And the game grew like crabgrass in the Texas summer.
Today, we know see players like Stefan Noesen who was the number one pick for the Ottawa Senators in the 2011 draft, 21st overall. Austin Smith, a homegrown talent who is living the dream playing in his hometown Stars’ system down in the AHL with the Texas Stars. The future continues to shine as bright as the Lone Star, as Plano-native, defenseman Seth Jones is showing the potential to be a number one overall pick in next year’s draft.
In the immortal words of Gary Thorne on June 19th, 1999, “The stars are shinning bright, deep in the heart of Texas.” Tonight, Texas’ brightest Star will shine brightly forever.