– It only took two shifts before Mike Modano endeared himself to the sold-out crowd in Friday’s season-opener at Joe Louis Arena.
Modano, who grew-up 20-minutes from downtown Detroit, and played his entire 20-season career with the Dallas organization before signing with Detroit, made his Red Wings’ debut Friday against the visiting Anaheim Ducks. He signed a one-year contract with his hometown team two months ago.
“I’m glad to get that out of the way, give me a little relief for the next couple of weeks,” said Modano, who is the leading all-time American scorer in NHL history.
Modano gave the Red Wings a 2-0 lead in the first period -- in what eventually was a 4-0 win -- when he send a wrist shot from 42-feet away past Ducks goal Jonas Hiller. It was the 558th goal of Modano’s career.
He used a perfect screen by his linemate Dan Cleary, who drew an assist on the play, and Ducks forward Troy Bodie. Wings defenseman Brad Stuart
also received an assist.
“It was a great play by (Jiri Hudler
) and the defenseman, Stuey, and then Dan just holding off two guys,” Modano said. “I was able to get a good shot off; a good screen and just able to get it by Hiller.”
Heading into the season, Modano said that he expected a few uneasy moments, including Friday’s home-opener and his first return to Dallas next week. But even at 40-years-old, Modano said that he had some jitters heading into his first game with the team that he grew-up cheering for.
“I didn’t sleep much last night and this afternoon,” he said. “It’s a great excitement and something that I haven’t felt in quite a long time playing the game, so I’m pretty happy about that.”