By @MichaelCaples –
He’s had plenty of accomplishments and accolades to add to his hockey resume over the years.
Yet according to Livonia native Mike Modano, receiving the phone call to tell him he would be a part of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 tops the rest.
“I think this is…it obviously trumps them all,” Modano said when asked to rank a HHOF induction in relation to his Stanley Cup championship, U.S. Hockey Hall induction and many other career milestones. “This is kind of the one thing that once you retire, you wonder if you had a big enough impact on the game, on and off the ice, that you might get this call in a couple years. I think it all just kind of lingers in the back of our minds, and it wasn’t until the last couple weeks that it got more and more, publicity and talked about and written about. It does start crossing your mind, if you’re worthy enough in the eyes of the committee, and their selection process.
“To that point, it never crossed my mind until a few weeks ago, and it’s certainly, like I said, the pinnacle, this is the ultimate recognition I think a player could obviously ever have or ever get amongst his peers and guys he’s played with and the guys that I’m going in with are certainly some of the best guys and best players that the game had to offer. It’s the top, no question.”
It’s not hard to see why the Michigan product is a first-ballot hall-of-famer. In 1,499 NHL games across 22 seasons, Modano scored 561 goals and 1,374 total points – more than any other player who was born in the United States. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1988 NHL Draft by the Minnesota North Stars lived up to his draft hype and then some, serving as the leader of hockey’s expansion into Texas in the ‘90s, and continuing his remarkable hockey abilities across multiple decades.
Modano is joined by former Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek, former Red Wings foe Peter Forsberg, and standout defenseman Rob Blake as the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2014 in the player category. Four players, four different native countries, and four names the hockey world won’t soon forget.
“Like all the other guys said, it’s just, what an amazing phone call to get,” Modano said. “Just speechless, loss for words at what this has really meant to me and to all of us, to get a call like this and to be recognized by some great individuals that are involved with the game of hockey. I certainly want to thank the Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame committee, the fans of Dallas and the fans of Minnesota, Prince Albert (where he played junior hockey), it’s just been an amazing run, and certainly this caps off just a tremendous time I had playing the game.
“I’ve been lucky and fortunate enough to be involved in the game for a long time, and be around some great people and individuals that helped along the way. Without their help and their loyalty, I certainly wouldn’t be here talking to you.”
Modano was one of the first American-born players to venture north of the border to compete in the Western Hockey League for his junior years. It was a decision he reflected on today during the teleconference call for the HHOF announcement – one he said he doesn’t regret for a minute.
“It allowed me to have a growth of the love of the game while I was up there playing, and certainly one of the tougher leagues in Canada,” Modano said. “I think it was a great league, great preparation for the next step to the NHL. I don’t regret a minute of that decision I made to go up there. It was certainly a big part of my life at that time.”
And while the next two decades saw him become an iconic hockey name away from home, his career ended in Detroit – another decision the longtime Dallas Star doesn’t regret, either.
“I was just grateful for the opportunity to come back home and play in front of family and friends and play for a team that I grew up watching for lots of years,” Modano said. “That experience was nonetheless very memorable. Having the opportunity to be around Kenny Holland and Mike Babcock all year and the great Ilitch family, it was just a good experience for me. It was an opportunity for a new chapter, to go home and play, but one that I don’t regret doing.
“It was a lot of fun, I got to play obviously with some great players, some world-class talent there in Detroit. Unfortunately it was cut short by the tendons in my wrist getting cut, but I would have loved to have another crack at another year or two there if I had stayed healthy. Nonetheless, another great stepping stone, a great chapter, that’s very memorable.”
Modano will officially enter the Hockey Hall of Fame during their induction weekend, which takes place from Friday, Nov. 14 through Monday, Nov. 17.