DALLAS -- April 8, 2010 was quite an emotional night for Mike Modano at American Airlines Center. It was the final game at home for the iconic Dallas Stars center, who finished his storied 22-year career (all but one of those seasons spent with the Stars) as the holder of 15 franchise records and the NHL's career leader in points by an American-born player.
On that night in downtown Dallas, Modano had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 shootout win against the Anaheim Ducks. And as the game was reaching its final stages, a capacity crowd serenaded No. 9 with a cacophony of cheers in appreciation for all he had done to help put Dallas on the map in the NHL landscape.
Modano went on to play one more season in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings and returned to Dallas once as a visitor; he still received a hero's welcome despite wearing the opposing sweater.
But on March 8, 2014, his No. 9 will be raised to the rafters in one of the ultimate honors for this local sports hero who now works for the Stars as special adviser. The visiting team that night will be the Minnesota Wild, a fitting opponent because Modano started his career with the Minnesota North Stars after they selected him first in the 1988 NHL Draft.
"I think it was between Detroit and Minnesota and it just happened to be Minnesota, which I think is just as good as against the Wings. It started there. I have obviously a lot of fond memories of my time there," Modano said. "So, it's something on the calendar now. [I'm] looking forward to it."
Not only does Modano's name appear prominently in the Stars' record books, he was an NHL All-Star eight times and a big reason Dallas won the Stanley Cup in 1999. It was largely because of him that hockey took hold in the area and the fans have never forgotten the impression he left on and off the ice.
Modano still remembers the sea of emotion surrounding his final home game with the Stars vividly, as well as his farewell press conference in Dallas in September 2011. But as the night of his jersey retirement approaches, he realizes seeing it raised to the rafters will result in a similar reaction from the longtime fan favorite.
"I think it'll be just as tough. I think the press conference was one of them that was tough, the last game, that one. When you have to address people by yourself and you've got to say a lot of things in a short time and you've got to touch on a lot of things, memories and moments, it just kind of all hits you at once," Modano said. "It's tough to prepare for. You try to visualize it or practice it beforehand, but nothing prepares you for that moment when you've got to get up there and kind of get all that out."