HHOF Profile: Mike Modano

Anaheim Ducks v Dallas Stars

Hockey is Canada’s game and it always has been with more Canadians in the league than all other countries combined. They represent 54% of the league make-up in terms of nationalities with every other country representing the 46%. One nationality stands out among the non-Canadians though as the USA represents 20% of the league and that number continues to grow. Hockey in the FSA is growing and it continues to make headway despite a handful of teams having trouble staying alive. The sport is one of the fastest growing in the country and it is a sport that areas with no ice and no winter are falling in love with. A lot of that has to do with the first wave of true superstars from the USA in the NHL. There had always been a number of Americans in the league but very few of them reached the status of Canadians like Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe. That began to change in the late 1980s when a new wave of Americans joined the league and started to make an impact on the NHL. This group of American hockey players changed the game for the USA and they did it the hard way. Playing hockey was not much of a choice for most people in the USA as athletes prefer to play baseball or football rather than spend the money on hockey or try to find ice time, especially in the 1980s. That didn’t stop these players though as they pursued the less popular choice and became hockey players. As they started to make an impact in the league they brought American hockey to the forefront and were the beginning of another generation of hockey players that have brought American hockey to the best it has ever been. This first group of hockey players were the beginning of the American hockey revolution and one of the men leading the charge was Mike Modano. Not only was he an American playing hockey but he also led a team into one of the more questionable markets in the NHL and made it successful. Modano was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars and played in one of the hotbeds of American hockey. The team did not survive however and Modano moved with the team to Dallas where he blazed a trail in a non-traditional market and made it a successful franchise through the 1990s. He was the face of the franchise and the face of American hockey for years as one of the most consistently great American players to ever enter the NHL.

Even after all of the first major wave of Americans and the new American players that they inspired Modano is the best American forward in NHL history. He holds the record for most points by and American born player. That path to being the most prolific American in the game started in a somewhat predictable place. Modano grew up in a state that truly does love hockey as a native of Livonia, Michigan. The state is one of the few hotbeds of hockey in the USA with the Detroit Red Wings leading the charge in the state as the beacon for hockey. As a seven-year old in Michigan Modano was far and above any of his peers and he quickly became noticed by USA hockey and the Canadian Hockey League. At 16-years old he moved to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan using a path that many American players had to use and joining the CHL. While with the Prince Albert Raiders he continued to show a lot of potential and in 1998 was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars continuing his rise up the rankings as the most promising American star in the NHL. He was a new breed of American player as the he was not the big brawny player that used his size to play great defence. Instead he was the smaller quick forward with a great shot and a scoring touch. He was a prolific scorer putting up 561 goals throughout his career. Despite his offensive abilities Modano also became known for his defensive abilities later in his career. He quickly became an all-around star and for years was the face of a franchise. He brought the North Stars/Dallas Stars into the spotlight and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 1998-99. He was the main reason why the team stuck in Dallas throughout the 1990s. He is still the name at the top of the list for American players and remains the golden standard which is why he will enter the Hall of Fame this year as one of the greatest American born players in the history of the NHL.

mike_modano

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