With the first pick in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, the Minnesota North Stars select, Mike Modano of the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL.
With one sentence, a new history book of United States hockey began. At 17 years, 361 days, Michael Thomas Modano, an avid baseball fan and player was picked by the North Stars to turn the team into a contender and ultimately, become the face of the franchise.
It may have taken him some time, but Modano embraced his responsibility, especially upon moving to Texas. I have said it many times before: Wayne Gretzky brought hockey to the south, but it was Mike Modano who cultivated it. It's been well documented what Modano did for hockey in the south and the state of Texas in particular with the increase of hockey rinks and registered hockey players. However, with Mike Modano, there was always so much more than the goals and points. I asked folks what Modano's contribution has meant to them in regards to their being a hockey fan. Many of you expressed very similar bonds:
Stars_Insider I've known Modano's name since I was five years old, I've grown up with Modano, and it's been a household name at my house— Logan Boyd (@Logandaboyd) March 3, 2014
Many of us have referred to one another as a part of a "Stars family." At the head of that family since the very beginning was Mike Modano. He was the patriarch. And even though some of us saw the writing on the wall, some had a very hard time when the Stars let Modano go test the free agency waters.
Still, many expressed a gratitude for what Mike meant to the game itself, and the introduction of the game to North Texas. Many of us grew up throwing footballs and baseballs around with our friends and family. As you can see from a few, in the early-to-mid 90's, more and more folks put the footballs away and laced up the skates.
Stars_Insider He is the reason I started playing the game. Watching him play made me love hockey more and more. A huge part of my childhood— Gavin Wilkinson (@The_RealDeal97) March 3, 2014
Perhaps the best answer is what all hockey fans have grown to love and appreciate when it comes to the sport of hockey: the selfless joy: