Michael Thomas Modano Jr.
Born June 7, 1970 (age 41) in Livonia, Michigan, USA
I talked about Mike’s retirement the other day, so now let’s talk about the man himself. He began playing with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders before he was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988. He was the first overall pick, an honor only five other American players (Brian Lawton, Bryan Berard, Rick DiPietro, Erik Johnson and Patrick Kane) have shared. He played one more year with the Raiders before joining the North Stars, and he scored his first goal against the New York Islanders’ Glenn Healy.
It’d take forever to go over every year of his career, so here are the highlights: he was a finalist for the Calder, Selke and Lady Byng Trophies, and in fact his loss of the Calder to Sergei Makarov led to the rule change that rookie nominees cannot be more than 26 years of age. He played in the 1991 and 2000 Stanley Cup Finals and helped the Dallas Stars win the Cup in 1999. And talk about NHL records! Here’s the rundown:
- Most goals by a US-born player (561)
- Most points by a US-born player (1374)
- Most career playoff points by a US-born player (145)
- Most games played by a US-born forward (1499)
He’s also considered one of the greatest players in USA Hockey history, if not THE greatest, having played:
- twice in the World Junior Championships
- once in the IIHF World Championships
- twice in the World Cup of Hockey (won a silver and gold medal)
- twice in the World Championships
- three times in the Olympics (he won silver in 2002 with Team USA)
Off the ice, he’s married to singer Willa Ford (she of the song “I Wanna Be Bad”). He heads the Mike Modano Foundation, which raises money for organizations that help children and families affected by child abuse. He was also in a movie! He had a cameo in The Mighty Ducks and said only two lines. Mike’s also a golfer who teams up with his former Stars teammate Brett Hull on the links; they even opened a restaurant together in 2008.
I watched Mike’s press conference announcing his retirement. I can tell you that he couldn’t make it through without tearing up, and even I was on the verge of crying. The best part of the presser was when his parents came up and hugged him in the middle of his speech. I wanted to just curl up and bawl myself.
Thanks for 21 years of amazing hockey, Mike. We’ll see you in the Hall of Fame soon.