Tag Archive for USA hockey

9 Ways I Choose to Remeber Number 9

by Matt Day
Mike and me

They say that when Wayne Gretzky moved to LA, that he brought hockey to the SouthWest. He may have planted the seed, but it was Mike Modano and maybe a small few like him that made those seeds grow and take root in these so called “non traditional” hockey markets.He spent 21 years in the NHL, 3 times he skated for team USA in the Olympics, he has won a World Cup of hockey and also the Stanley Cup. He ended his career as the highest scoring US born hockey player of all time and one of the greatest all time players in the game.
We can rattle of stats of Modano all night, but his contributions go beyond the numbers. That’s why I’d like to list the 9 things I’ll remember about Modano, in no particular order.

  1. I remember a young kid with the weight of a franchise  on his shoulders and he was placed in an unproven market. He became the Dallas Stars and the face of hockey in Texas and beyond.
  2. I remember his first season here and a head on collision with Mark Messier’s shoulder. We were afraid for his safety as they carried him off on a stretcher. Moments later I remember the horror of watching the paramedics drop Modano in his stretcher face first. You can’t keep a good man down.
  3. I remember the goals and points Modano sacrificed as a team player. Bob Gainey struggled to get Modano to buy into his defense first system. The result was Modano becoming one of the best two way players in the history of the game.
  4. I remember the brilliant look of Modano skating. The way his jersey blew in the breeze as he skated past defenders made the most skillful and difficult moves look easy.
  5. I remember his ability to become one with his line mates. Whether it was Ulf Dalen or Jere Lehtinen it seemed he had the natural ability to read their minds and get them the puck without even looking.
  6. I remember seeing Modano out stick handle 4 Ducks players one handed as he held up his hockey shorts with his other hand.
  7. I remember how he answered his critics who called him soft as he battled major injuries to his wrist and shoulder on his way to winning the Stanley Cup. It was his team and watching him skate the Cup will be a memory I’ll always cherish.
  8. I will remember how much he cared. As his career began winding down and he achieved milestone after milestone he continued to be overcome with emotion. His trail of tears ending in one of the most emotional and fitting season ending games. His and Jere’s last as a Star ended in their two shootout goals winning the game for Dallas.
  9. I remember his final words at his US Hockey Hall of Fame speech. I was fortunate enough to be there as he discussed his time in Dallas. He stated that at the beginning he felt it was one of the worst decisions the franchise could have made. After reflecting on his time here however he said this, “What I’m most proud of is being a part of the group that brought hockey to Texas.”

 

As Dallas Stars fan from the beginning and a season ticket holder for eighteen years I have had the privilege of watching him grow and achieve greatness. Thank you, for what you have done not only for the team, but what you have done for hockey in Dallas, in Texas, in the United States, and far beyond the Stars.

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.

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