I don't know how to tell you this, Mike Modano...but I'll miss you.
You may not believe it, but it's true. I may never have gotten to talk to you, we sure aren't pen pals, and we definitely aren't friends on Facebook, but I'll miss you all the same.
Sidenote: In fact, there's 39 people who share the name "Mike Modano" on Facebook, three or four "Michael" Modanos, and a fan page. If you want to be friends, Captain Dallas, you add me.
I've never even seen you play live (or at least in person). In fact, I've gotten about as close to the actual Dallas, Texas, as I have to the TV show Dallas .
But boy, do you make an impact.
A lot of people forget, or don't even know that you were taken first overall in 1988. And you were taken there for good reason: Over just 176 career WHL games, you nearly broke the 300-point barrier (297), scoring 118 goals and averaging an assist per game (176 assists in...you guessed it: 176 career games).
That first overall pick came with a lot of weight behind it, too. Keep in mind that the only American selected before you in that top spot was Brian Lawton.
Not the most glowing case study for Americans taken first overall.
But you started to prove the stereotype wrong the minute you stepped on the ice. 29 goals and 75 points in your rookie season will do that.
It's just too bad you were only runner-up for the Calder, which was won (not without controversy) by 31-year old Sergei Makarov.
That slight didn't stop you, though. Nothing seemed to stop you. Not even Mark Messier or getting dropped off of a stretcher .
By your fourth year in the league, you had surpassed Lawton in goals (123 to 112), assists (186 to 154) and points (309), and by 1996/97 you overtook him in penalty minutes, too (424 to 401).
Considering the fact that you accomplished all of that in 166 games fewer than Lawton played in over nine NHL seasons with six different teams, I'd say you were well on your way.
After that, you took down American hockey history. You blew past Joe Mullen's record 502 goals for an American-born player, trounced Phil Housley in the American points category (formerly 1,232), and laid claim to the regular season games-played and playoff-points records for Americans as well.
You were such a good teammate that you convinced Brett Hull to cheat for you so that you could win your lone Stanley Cup. Then you rewarded him by having him as a co-Best Man at your wedding.
There were times you could've left town, but you stuck it out with the franchise that gave you your shot.
Of course there was the move from Minnesota to Dallas between the 1992/93 and 1993/94 seasons. That could've been one of the best moves of your career, however. Not only is Dallas where you rose to prominence as a player, but as the stand-out person you've been as well.
By giving so much back to the community, you sold hockey in a market not many believed in.
Then there were those pesky Boston rumors during the 2005 offseason, but you turned them away, signing on with Tom Hicks and the Dallas Stars to finish off your career.
The year after, they decided that Brenden Morrow was a better fit as the captain in Dallas. A low blow to a man who had given everything to the franchise he began with.
But you didn't pout, you didn't whine, and you didn't ask for a trade. You were yourself: The quiet guy who doesn't speak ill of anyone, deals with it internally, and goes back to work.
It actually took an interview from your fiancee, Willa Ford, for us to hear about the frustrations that we all knew were there.
So fast forward to today—the day after you may have played your last game as a Dallas Star.
With under two minutes to go in the third, you tied the game. In the shootout, you scored the eventual winner—one of those moments that just transcends everything—made possible by long-time friend and teammate Jere Lehtinen scoring right after.
The crowd applauded. There was noise, and signs, and a whole lot of love. And you shed a tear knowing how appreciative everyone was.
Let it end here, Mike. It may not be going out on top, but it's going out how you played your career: Successful and distinguished.
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