It was a night I know I will never forget, Game 6 of the 2008 Western Conference Semifinals between the San Jose Sharks and the Dallas Stars. A helpless moment in my college apartment at 2:21 a.m. ET, 9:03 into the fourth overtime, as I watched Brenden Morrow score the series-clinching goal on the power play. In an instant, he knocked the Sharks (my childhood team) out of the playoffs, and sent the archrival Stars to the Western Conference Finals.
So the mixed emotions were no surprise as I took a step into the Dallas locker room, looking at many of the same players who were a part of that memorable and disappointing night. Despite those thoughts fresh in my mind, though, and the chaos of the team just off the ice, there was one person who seemed to stick out over everyone else, Mike Modano. The 38-year-old, in his 17th NHL season, holds countless NHL records for American-born players and is an Olympian and Stanley Cup Champion. But he also has reputation off the ice that exceeds his accomplishments on it. With the team preparing for a post-skate meeting at Xcel Energy Center yesterday, I was able to sneak in a few minutes with future Hall of Famer.
RD: The team is off to a slow start. What are you doing to try and turn things around?
MM: On a daily basis, coming and putting our work and effort in. Continue grinding and implementing the things that we feel are going to keep us competitive and help us win us games. It comes down to execution and being able to find ways to win. Obviously, our special teams have been an issue and cost in some areas.
RD: There are nine players on the roster 25-years-old or younger. As one of the veterans, what are you trying to do to get those guys to reach their full potential?
MM: You want to just give them confidence and play them. Let them work through their kinks of adjusting to the NHL, figuring out what they can and can’t get away with. It takes time. Everybody wants results right away, especially if you’re struggling and things aren’t going your way, but, if they have a great attitude, and they’re showing they’re working hard, they’ll get every chance to play.
RD: The league wants to increase scoring. How do you feel that process is going with the current Collective Bargaining Agreement?
MM: Tough to say. I think the league on the whole has become better defensively because of the rules. Guys are better skaters and better positionally, so it’s kind of worked in a reverse effect where you’re almost cautious about where you are on the ice and can’t take chances. Teams are [playing] more back. Because of the speed, you’re a little less apt to go after guys.
RD: As you get later in your career, do you have a different perspective of the game than you used to? Do you maybe appreciate things a little more?
MM: Yeah, you certainly do. It goes fast. You try to appreciate as much as you can. You take for granted, obviously, when you’re young and playing. For the most part, it was having fun, but you reflect and you feel luckier as you get older to have the opportunity to play the game.
RD: You started the Mike Modano Foundation. Talk a little about that, and do you have any plans to expand in the future?
MM: We’re always looking to get bigger and better. We’ve created a lot of things positively in Dallas with a lot more homes and working with Children’s Hospital in Dallas, so it's an ongoing thing that were going to try and build, and it's something I can work on when I’m out of the game.
RD: I know you are a big golfer, so what is your favorite course?
MM: Probably Cypress Point.
RD: What about your favorite in Minnesota?
MM: Back in the day I loved Hazeltine, Minneapolis Country Club and Somerset Country Club. I have a great time coming back and playing here.
Thanks to Mike Modano and congratulations on his marriage. He says married life is going “very well.”
For comments or suggestions on players you would like to hear from in a future Q&A, please feel free to e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org