For the first time in 22 years the NHL will start its regular season without Mike Modano in the lineup for one of its 30 teams. Modano, a star forward for the Minnesota/Dallas Stars franchise, decided to call it quits just after NHL training camps got underway.
While Modano may not have been the most prolific scorer in history, he does leave the game as the highest-scoring American born player ever with a total of 1,374 points in 1,499 season games. He managed to score 561 goals throughout his career and added 813 assists. He added another 58 goals and 88 assists for 146 points in 176 playoff games.
The 41-year-old center decided to announce his retirement on his Facebook page by saying the time was right for him to say goodbye. Modano was originally drafted first overall way back in 1988 from the Prince Albert Raiders of the western Hockey League. He was the just the second American ever to be selected with the number one pick. Brian Lawton was the first in 1983.
Modano was drafted by the Minnesota Stars and he made his NHL debut in the playoffs during 1988/89 when he played two games. He played four more seasons in Minnesota before the Stars relocated to Dallas in 1993 where he enjoyed 16 more seasons. He scored 50 goals in the 1993/94 campaign and managed to hit the back of the net at least 30 times on nine occasions.
Overall, Modano ranks number 22 on the list of NHL all-time scorers in points and number 23 in goals. He led the Stars to the Stanley Cup championship in 1998/99 and to the final the following year. He took home a gold medal in 1996 as a member of the winning American team in the World Cup of Hockey and earned a silver medal at the Olympic Games in 2002.
Modano left the Stars at the end of the 2009/10 season and signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings. However, he missed just over half of the season due to a severed tendon in his right wrist. He said when last season came to an end in Detroit he realized that he was finished as a player. He said he didn’t receive any offers in the summer, but the Vancouver Canucks asked him to try out before training camp started.
However, he turned the invitation down because he wasn’t skating during the offseason and said he wasn’t really motivated. He didn’t feel quite right about retiring from the league as a Red Wing though. The Stars helped him out in that respect by signing him to a one-day contract so he could officially announce his retirement as a member of the Dallas organization.
The Michigan native plans to stay in the game and will do some broadcasting work with the NHL Network as well as FoxSports Southwest, where he’ll work some Stars games. He said he’d love to work for the Stars franchise once their ownership situation becomes clearer (the club is currently up for sale).
While Modano will definitely miss hockey, the fans will also miss him. He was known as a clean, classy player with plenty of speed and an excellent shot. He had a huge impact on the sport in America and will go down as one of that country’s greatest players. Expect to see Modano inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the future.