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Modano on verge of becoming all-time top American scorer

by Evan Grossman
Dallas Stars icon Mike Modano is only six points shy of tying the record for NHL points by a U.S. born player.
It was a Yankee Doodle Dandy day in New York on Wednesday when a star-studded, all-American quartet of past, present and future hockey greats descended on the Big Apple for a whirlwind media tour of the city.

The central theme of the day was the soon-to-be-broken American-born scoring record, which Dallas Stars icon Mike Modano is a stone’s throw from breaking. Modano, who recently married singer Willa Ford, is currently six points shy of tying the all-time scoring record by an American-born hockey player.

Phil Housley currently owns that title, sitting pretty with 1,232 career points. The legendary Minnesota-born defenseman was on hand Wednesday in New York, along with New Yorker Joe Mullen, who was the top American goal scorer until Modano eclipsed his 502 goals last season. Also part of the festivities was 2007 No. 1 draft pick Patrick Kane, a Buffalo resident, who may someday challenge for the title of the NHL’s top American point getter.

“It’s going to be nice having both,” Modano said of the goal and point records. “The goal was to get them both last year, but I missed a chunk of games because of injuries and that put a damper on that. But it’s right around the corner. It’s giving me some excitement going into the season knowing that’s next on the agenda and try to enjoy the buildup to it and the pursuit of it.

“I think I was pressing a lot last year to get that goal thing over with because I knew that was closer and more attainable than the point thing was,” he said. “I tried to enjoy the moment and the buildup to it, but I was pressing every night to get it done. I think this will be different because you have a lot of games to deal with, whereas last year, I think I was a little compressed and the games were limited.”

The quartet was certainly star-studded, but the center of attention, no pun intended, was Modano, who has 1,226 points in 1,238 NHL games. If all goes according to plan, the Michigan native could wear the American scoring crown by the end of the first month of the season, which is only a few weeks away.

While Housley has every right to want to hang onto the scoring title, he is rooting for Modano and told, “Records are meant to be broken.”

There is little doubt that will happen.

“I’d like to do it on a goal,” Modano said. “When it happens, it happens.”

Former NHL great Joe Mullen gave a tour of his old Hell's Kitchen neighborhood where he grew up playing roller hockey in the schoolyard.
As part of the Modano media junket, the principles were all assembled early Wednesday morning at the posh Upper West Side Empire Hotel, where three suites had been reserved for print interviews with publications like USA Today, video shoots with NHL Productions, and a series of photo shoots, including one elaborate session with NHL Images that included the new, yet-to-be-released Dallas Stars RBK Edge uniform (we like it very much) and an assortment of snaps with all four fitted with red, white and blue Team USA jerseys. (WATCH | 300K ) sat down with Modano, Housley, Mullen and Kane for exclusive pieces that will run once the season begins. We also got some great behind-the-scenes video of the day, which you can see here.

From the hotel, the foursome attended a lunch with the New York Times and then filmed a television spot with Associated Press TV. Mullen was gracious enough to take back to his old Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, where we got a once-in-a-lifetime tour of his old street and got to visit the schoolyard where he and his brothers first learned to play the game on metal roller skates. It was quite the journey down memory lane as Mullen stood outside the old apartment building he grew up in, talking about playing stickball, the old Madison Square Garden that used to be right up the street, playing in the heated cross-town rivalry roller hockey games against the West Side kids, and what current NHL players might be worthy to strap on the skates and get into one of those memorable games. (WATCH | 300K )

Modano, lean and mean and ready for the start of training camp next week, concluded his day with his first-ever visit to NHL headquarters in midtown where he and his new bride Willa filmed a spot that will run on the entertainment show Extra at some point this week.

For a guy who, by all accounts, was painfully shy when he came into the NHL as an 18-year-old, Modano has blossomed into quite the ambassador of the game. He never imagined he’d ever be on the cusp of this record. But then again, he never thought he’d last this long, either.

“I never even pictured playing this long when I was younger, this many years,” Modano said. “I was saying, anywhere from six to ten years would have been fulfilling. But now I’m closing in on 20.”

He’s also closing in on an impressive record.

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