Mike Modano didn’t know how he’d deal with the emotion of Wednesday night’s pre-game ceremonies recognizing his achievement as the all-time points leader among U.S.-born players.
As usual, the face of the Stars’ franchise handled the situation with the same cool, calm demeanor he displays on the ice.
“Mike Modano Tribute Night”, presented by American Airlines, was an 18-minute testament to his 18-year career with the Stars and Minnesota NorthStars.
Modano set the U.S.-born mark on Nov. 7 with two goals at San Jose in a 3-1 win over the Sharks, surpassing Phil Housley’s record of 1,232 points.
Modano entered Wednesday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks with 1,238 points in 1,258 games (a U.S.-born record 512 goals and 726 assists).
The program began with comments on Modano’s career from broadcast team Ralph Strangis and Daryl Reaugh, followed by a video review of Modano’s greatest moments in hockey.
Then it was time for Modano to take a twirl around the ice, greeted by a standing ovation from the sellout American Airlines Center crowd of 18,584.
“There are a lot of great memories, a lot of people along the way who meant so much for my career,” Modano told the fans.
Among those on hand were his wife, Willa Ford, and his parents, Mike Sr. and Karen.
So was Stars owner Tom Hicks, who presented Modano with a golf vacation on the Old Course at St. Andrew’s in Scotland.
“I feel like a proud father tonight,” Hicks said. “I may be the owner but I’m here as a friend. He’s truly the face of our franchise. The last 12 years have been quite a ride for me since I bought the team. We’ve had some great wins and unforgettable moments and you were there all the way. Thank you for your friendship. You are a great ambassador of our game and an even better person. You are a great American and I’m proud you’re a Dallas Star.”
Also taking the microphone during the ceremony at center ice was Modano’s former teammate and golfing buddy, Stars interim co-general manager Brett Hull.
“I hope everybody here has enjoyed watching him develop as not only one of the great players in the game but as a symbol of class for the city of Dallas,’’ Hull said. “The three years I spent playing with Mike has too many memories, including leading us to the ’99 Stanley Cup, the greatest memory of all.”
Modano later thanked former Stars owner Norm Green and associate coach Rick Wilson “for taking a chance on a 15-year-old’’ back when Modano was a hot prospect in juniors.
Housley was also there, and he recalled the eight years that he carried the U.S.-born points standard.
“It was an honor to hold the record and represent USA Hockey with that honor,” Housley said, then kiddingly added, “I asked (Modano) why it took him so long to get the record. I’m very proud of him. He gets to share this with his friends, family, teammates and fans from Dallas.”
Another former U.S. star, Joe Mullen, took his turn congratulating Modano. Mullen held the U.S. goal-scoring mark of 502 until it was shattered last season by Modano.
“I’m glad I was fortunate enough to see Mike come in at such a young age. He was an exciting player from Day One,” said Mullen, an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Flyers who missed a game to be in Dallas for the event.
Stars captain Brenden Morrow
presented his teammate with a personalized engraved watch, and Modano also received a mural by artist David Arrigo, painted over a span of the last six days.
Chris Pronger, captain of the Ducks, presented Modano with a golf vacation on behalf of the Anaheim organization earlier on Wednesday.