Tag Archive for fan history

Mike Modano: The Kid From Michigan And How I’ll Remember Him

by Dylan Nadwodny
Mike Modano on Ice

The dark jersey flapping in the wind behind him as he skated by all who stood in his way towards the defenseless goalie. We all remember that. The kid from Livonia, Michigan drafted #1 overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. The kid that would forever change hockey in Dallas on a level nobody has, or most likely will ever do. And on March 8th, 2014, that kid steps on the ice once again to have his famous number 9 lifted to the rafters in the city that made him so famous.

Hockey in Dallas? Nobody would have ever thought of such a thing until 1993 when the Minnesota North Stars moved down south to North Texas. Norm Green brought the franchise down to Dallas amidst outrage from those he left behind in Bloomington and the “State of Hockey”. Norm was looking to win, and win fast when he moved the team to Dallas. As any fan that attended a game in the Dallas Stars’ 20th Anniversary season remembers, Green uttered the words at that first game at Reunion Arena, “And now we, the Dallas Stars; all of us and all of you, have a message to send to the NHL: Don’t Mess With Texas!” In a matter of five short years, the pieces were in place to prove that statement to be true. None more prevalent than the ever humble assistant captain, Mike Modano. Along with Stars greats such as Craig Ludwig, Derian Hatcher, Ed Belfour, Brett Hull, and Joe Nieuwendyk, the young Modano and team did what Norm envisioned from the start. They brought a hockey championship to the city of Dallas. The 1999 Stanley Cup put the Stars on the map for the next few years as they made it to the playoffs and the Stanley Cup Finals the next year, unfortunately losing to the New Jersey Devils in six games. The image of Mike Modano raising Lord Stanley, though, will forever be engrained into the minds of every Stars fan.

You ask almost any NHL fan the first player they think of when you mention the Dallas Stars, and it will most likely be Mike. You ask me what I think of when I hear the name Mike Modano, and one word comes to mind: legendary. The man who compiled both the most points (1,374) and goals (561) for an American born player can be described as nothing more than an icon to not only the city of Dallas and the Stars franchise, but for the United States and hockey as a whole. Mike Modano to me is the epitome of what a star player should be. He lets his play on the ice do the talking for him, has the awareness to know what to do in the situation he is presented, and knows exactly what to say. In searching for adjectives to describe Modano, none that I can think of can accurately define what he means to both myself and any Stars fan I come across. The iconic image that I will always remember is that black jersey flailing like a bat out of hell on his way to scoring a highlight reel goal. As I often like to say, “Once a Star, Always a Star”. Now, with his number being immortalized for as long as the Stars exist, the #9 will always be used by one man, and one man only. The great Mike Modano.

Imagine, what a young kid from Michigan could do for hockey in Texas. Make it evolve from almost an impossible shot in the dark to a full fledged reality and franchise for North Texans to be proud of. I sit here today, in 2014, looking back on all the years I can remember watching Mike Modano, oblivious to how great he was until he began breaking records. Only after watching him grab the all-time American points scoring lead did it dawn on me how special he really was. I always had a sense that he was a great player within the organization, but he was never one to flaunt accomplishments around as many people would think, which is why I believe it never hit me until that night against the San Jose Sharks on November 7, 2007, where he would capture the record on a shorthanded breakaway goal. Only then did I realize and fully understand that he, in my mind, is undoubtedly the greatest American born player ever.

Looking back on the career of Mike Modano, many will agree with me in saying that there might never be another American player like him. His loyalty, determination, toughness, and dedication separated him from virtually everyone else and made him into what people remember him as today. The icon that will be forever associated with the Stars and the city of Dallas. In a city known for men such as Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Emmitt Smith, and Tom Landry, to name a few, Modano is easily up there with them, and I believe always will be.

 

Mike Modano. Once a Star. Always a Star.

 

(Photo Source: USA Today)

Why Stephane Robidas is the Reason I Will Forever Be Making My Boyfriend Sandwiches

by Betsy
Stephane Robadis

I met Stephane Robidas a few years ago when he left practice in Frisco. My boyfriend and I waited outside with other fans for him to sign a puck.

When he came out to greet fans, he took a bite out of what looked like a hoagie. My boyfriend asked for his signature, and being the great guy he is, Robi said, “sure!” and set aside the sandwich. My boyfriend looked at the sandwich and commented that it looked tasty, and that the sight of it was making him hungry.

Robi said, “It’s good. My wife made it!” Referring to me, he said, “She didn’t make you one?” and he gave me a wink and a smile.  Hahaha!

My boyfriend won’t let it go to this day. Whenever he sees me making a sandwich, he says, “Stephane would want you to make me a sandwich.”

An Impulsive Decision I Wouldn’t Trade the World For – My Modano Story

by Tyler Hagen
Photo Credit: Calgary Herald

Photo Credit: Calgary Herald

It was the morning of April 8th, 2010. It wasn’t a particularly special day for me. I had had classes at Texas Tech at 9 AM that morning. I got up, got on Facebook while was eating breakfast and noticed that that night was the last home game for the Stars for the 09-10 season. I got out of class and was walking back to my apartment. It was about 11:00 AM. I hadn’t been following the Stars much that season, so it took a while for it to hit me… that night could potentially be Modano’s last home game in Dallas. As I was walking, it became more and more apparently to me how important this was.

I texted my friend who lived in a few hours away in Midland to see if he wanted to go. He was down, so I called the box office to see if any tickets were still available. Luckily, since it was fan appreciation night, I was able to get a pair for about $18 each. I grabbed my Modano jersey and hopped in my car. I drove two hours to Midland to pick my buddy up, then we drove the 5 hours to Dallas. I hadn’t been to a Stars game in probably 5 years since my dad moved from Dallas to Denver. I also had never driven in a big city. Luckily, we made it to the game without getting lost (thank goodness for GPS).

We found our seats in the second row from the top on the offensive end. The Stars came out to practice. It was then that I saw all the fans signs on the glass and I realized that this could be Lehtinen and Turco’s last games in a Stars jersey as well. The first period came and went, but I knew eventually something big would happen. That moment came in the second period, as Modano thanked the fans during a commercial break right before a Duck powerplay. The fans got louder and louder. I think the vast majority of fans looked exactly how Modano did…tears streaming. Seconds later, the Ducks scored on the powerplay, and I had a few choice words for them. Third period came and we were down by a goal. The story book turned its next page as Modano redirected a puck in to tie up the game. OT came and went. Onto the shootout. Turco was perfect, Lehtinen scored, and Modano scored one of the most beautiful shootout attempts I had seen. The crowd went absolutely nuts, and wasn’t quiet until Modano skated off the ice for the final time about 15 minutes later.

When we walked out, it was a bit bittersweet. Every woman’s make up was smeared and every mans eyes were red. We all had just witnessed one of the greatest moments in Stars history, a story book ending that 99% of players don’t get for their last game…but that was exactly it, it was his last game as a Dallas Stars.

I haven’t worn my Modano jersey since. In fact, I consider that game Mike Modano’s last hockey game in Dallas. To me, he retired after the last Stars game in Minnesota a few nights later.

Miracle on Ice

by Matt Day

The year was 1980 America had just launched the last of its deep space probes. Oh wait, sorry I think that was from Buck Rogers.

It was 1980, we were in the middle of the gas crisis, disco was dying if not already dead, and the cold war raged on. However, none of this was any concern to a 6 year old boy growing up in Garland, TX. My only worries at the time were my sports teams and not missing my favorite TV shows. My favorite sport depended on the time of year. It was all about my Cowboys or Rangers with the Mavericks soon to join my world months later. The seeds for what would become my true favorite sport were just about to be planted.

You’ve read the stories and watched the movies about the 1980 Olympics. You may have read about the political and emotional impact surrounding the ‘Miracle on Ice’ game. This is the story though, of how all of these factors introduced a young boy to the ‘Coolest Game on Earth.’

To prepare the children for some of the events we would see at the Olympics our gym teachers at Watson Elementary would teach us about them. However, there isn’t much you can show children about the winter games when you live in Texas. This meant we played a lot of sock hockey. I was good at it. It came so natural to me that one day after cutting my finger at home I got a note to excuse me from gym class. When I realized we were playing hockey the note mysteriously disappeared.

One day my kindergarten teacher gave us a homework assignment. It was the 1st homework assignment I had ever received and also the best ever. The Olympics were on late and so she asked us to get our parents permission, if possible, to stay up and watch the hockey game that night. She said it was a very important event and she didn’t want us to miss it. I was excited, but also really didn’t believe my parents would allow it. I told my teacher that my parents wouldn’t let me stay up for Monday Night Football so I didn’t think I would get to watch the hockey game either. My teacher then wrote me a note to give to my parents. I wish so bad that I still had that note.

My parents gave me permission under the condition that I took a long nap before the game and that I watched quietly so that I wouldn’t wake anyone in the house, especially my baby sister. I was able to accomplish one of those.

My parents woke me up, set me on the couch and reminded me of the rules, which included going to bed as soon as it was over. I was so excited. It was my 1st time staying up by myself. The hockey game was a secondary thrill until the drop of the puck. I was immediately drawn to the speed of the game. I didn’t understand all of the rules, but the point of the game was obvious. The speed, grace, and hard hitting action were enough to make a young and impressionable little boy fall for the sport, but then when you add the drama that went with that particular game then you realized I had no chance. It was the 1st time I felt the electricity of the crowd and the importance of the moment. I got so caught up in the game that before I realized it I was chanting U-S-A! U-S-A!

Unfortunately Dad realized it first. He came in and gave me my first warning. Dad came in to check on me twice more that night. The second time I had to explain that the game wasn’t over it was the second halftime break, thingy. Just think how hard it is to explain 3 periods and 2 intermissions as an adult I was only 6 and didn’t fully understand it either. The final warning was worth getting in trouble for and it was only by the time on the clock and by the mercy of my father that I was able to watch the last portion of the game. When Mike Eruzione scored to give the US the lead with 10 minutes left I couldn’t stay quiet. The rest of the game was the most intense in sports that I can remember. I was on the edge of my seat the last 3 minutes. U-S-A! U-S-A! I cheered at full whisper until I joined with the crowd in the final count down and Al Michaels finished us off with his classic call, “Do you believe in miracles?!”

Miracle

That was a moment I can not forget. It was so vivid that I can still describe my experience as a 6 year old to this day. The hard part came for my teacher the next morning. She had to explain to me that we lived in Texas and I would virtually have to wait four more years to see my next game after the gold medal game the next day. That game I did not get permission to watch, but it did not matter the damage was done. I was hooked on hockey.

A Devil Becomes a Star

by Antares Leask
Jason Arnott

If you don’t hold long-term grudges, you may have forgotten that Jason Arnott scored the game-winning goal in double overtime of Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals to beat the Stars in 2000. Then, to add insult to injury, in 2002 we traded Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner for him.

I used to go to the old Valley Ranch practice facility and stand in the parking lot to get players’ autographs. If you remember the building, players got into their cars and had two exits to use. They could choose which side to leave—and often chose the one where the fans weren’t waiting, and they could choose whether or not to stop their cars at all to sign autographs. Joe Nieuwendyk always stopped to sign autographs—even when he was injured and signed them with an ice pack strapped to his hand. We loved Joe, and we loved Jamie.

And we HATED Jason Arnott. I went to that parking lot the day after the trade. It was spring break and we all huddled around talking in low, angry voices about our disappointment in the front office’s decision.

Arnott walked out of the players’ door.

He looked at us.

We glared at him.

Some of us (okay, maybe just me) literally growled at him.

Then, before even getting in his car, he walked over and shook every person’s hand and signed an autograph for each of us. Whether we wanted it or not.

That’s the image I will always have of Jason Arnott, and that was the day I became a fan.

Happy retirement, #44.

Happy retirement, #44.

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