Big Night in Big DPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
A shade less than 20 years ago, the Dallas Stars won their first game in their new Texas home, defeating the Detroit Red Wings by a 6-4 count on Oct. 5, 1993. Mike Modano scored one of the six Stars goals that night, pacing a team that was laced with former and future Capitals: James Black, Paul Cavallini, Ulf Dahlen, Dean Evason, Jim Johnson, Trent Klatt (a Caps’ draft choice), Grant Ledyard and Mark Tinordi. On Monday night in Dallas, Modano was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame along with longtime NHL executive Lou Lamoriello and former NHL player and current color analyst Eddie Olzcyk. Monday’s USA Hockey event also featured the awarding of the Lester Patrick Trophy to Caps president and minority owner Dick Patrick and Fort Wayne Komets radio voice Bob Chase. Former NHL player and longtime hockey executive and advocate Murray Costello was presented with the Wayne Gretzky Award. Minnesota North Stars owner Norm Green took a significant amount of heat for moving his team to Texas for the 1993-94 season, and rightfully so. Some of that heat came from Modano himself. “You’re crazy,” Modano recalled telling Green when informed that Green planned on moving the team to Texas. “You can’t go to Dallas. You can’t leave Minnesota.” Modano and the Stars moved, and they won the Stanley Cup in their new home in 1999. Modano, who retired after a 21-year NHL career just over a year ago, finished up his career with the most goals (561) and points (1,374) among all U.S.-born players in NHL history. On Monday, Modano was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in the city where he spent 16 of those 21 seasons. “I think what I am most proud of,” said Modano, “is being part of a group that brought hockey to Texas. “In 1993 there were maybe 50 kids registered to play hockey. Now there are over 10,000. [There are] dozens of rinks, and yes, Texas is the home to the most professional hockey teams in the country.” If there was a common theme that bound Monday’s honorees, it was the fact that they all have played a role in the expansion of hockey throughout the United States over the last few decades. Lamoriello played collegiate hockey at Providence University, then went on to serve his coach and alma mater as coach and later athletic director. After nearly a quarter-century as coach and AD at Providence, Lamoriello was named the president/general manager of the New Jersey Devils on April 30, 1987. In a quarter-century in that role – and twice filling in temporarily as the team’s head coach – Lamoriello has helped lead the Devils to five Stanley Cup final appearances and three Cup championships. “There’s no question [how far] it’s come,” said Lamoriello of hockey in the States. “After the ’96 World Cup, that’s when the American player was recognized. The only way you get recognized is when individuals have success in a game. On that roster you had MVPs, you had Calder winners, Norris Trophy winners. You had Stanley Cups. Standing here tonight, Mike [Modano’s] got one and Eddie [Olczyk’s] got one. We don’t have to think like this and talk like that anymore. The Americans are part of the game today as far as professional hockey. It’s no longer an individual country game. It’s a world game. “The Americans are here to stay in every way. I just came from New Jersey. When I went there [in 1987], there were 50 high school [ice hockey] teams. There are 170 now, men and women. In ’91 when they started counting individual [USA Hockey] registrations, there were 6,500. There were 17,800 last year. When Lamoriello graduated from Providence in 1963, there were three U.S.-born players playing in the National Hockey League. Last season, a total of 232 Americans suited up for NHL action. Olczyk made the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team as a 16-year-old, and played in the Olympics as a 17-year-old; he was the youngest member of Team USA. Olczyk skated on the famed Diaper Line on that ’84 Olympic Team along with Pat LaFontaine and David A. Jensen, who is also a former Capital. Both LaFontaine and Jensen were in attendance on Monday for their old linemate’s induction. Also in 1984, Olczyk became the first U.S.-born player drafted in the first round by his hometown team – the Chicago Blackhawks – when he was chosen third overall in the 1984 Entry Draft. The league’s youngest player in 1984-85, Olczyk notched the first of his 10 NHL seasons with 20 or more goals at the age of 18 that season. Olczyk won a Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994, played in 1,031 NHL games, scored 342 goals and registered 794 points in a career that spanned 16 seasons. After his retirement as an active player, Olczyk stepped into the broadcast booth of the Pittsburgh Penguins. A few seasons later, he was hired as the Pens’ head coach, a gig that lasted until just after the 2004-05 lockout. For the last several seasons, Olczyk has worked with fellow U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Emrick as the lead analyst on NBC’s hockey telecasts. Olczyk is also the analyst for the Blackhawks’ games on Comcast Chicago. “Everything I have is because of our great game,” said Olzcyk in his acceptance speech. “My family is here, my wife’s family is here, my family with the Chicago Blackhawks are here, my friends are here, my ex-teammates are here. I’m so grateful that you would want to come and share this with me, but this award is not about me. It is about all the people who helped me along the way in this long journey.” Prior to the trio of Hall inductions, Patrick and Chase were presented with the Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to hockey in the United States. Patrick joined the Caps’ organization in the early 1980s. He helped steer the team from doormat to Cup contender and spearheaded the team’s move from the Maryland suburbs to downtown D.C., and also played a large role in the construction of the team’s state-of-the-art practice facility – the Kettler Capitals Iceplex – in Arlington, Va. During Patrick’s three decades in the Disctrict, and youth and amateur hockey in the area have grown significantly. “Hockey has just grown tremendously in the United States in the past 30 years or so,” said Patrick. “Someone was just talking to me about Mike Modano coming up, a U.S. player coming up through the system and becoming a top player in the National Hockey League. That was unheard of when I was growing up. It was basically all Canadians and eventually some Europeans came in. And the best players were coming from the cold weather areas, from Minnesota, Detroit, Boston. But now there are hockey players coming from California, from Washington D.C., from all over the United States. A lot of people put in a lot of effort to grow hockey here.” Among those people are Chase, the 86-year-old voice of the Komets who is now in his 60th year behind the microphone. Chase called games for WOWO radio – a 50,000 watt station in Fort Wayne – beginning in 1953, and his voice boomed throughout the Midwest and beyond on that beacon of a signal, inspiring Emrick among many others. Chase has also been a tireless promoter of the game at all levels over the years. Costello played a few seasons in the NHL – and had a brief stint with the AHL Hershey Bears at the age of 19 in 1953-54 – before getting his law degree and getting back into the game at an executive level. Along with USA Hockey’s Walter Bush, Costello is credited with helping to bring women’s ice hockey into the Winter Olympic Games. Costello also helped to foster the U.S.-Canada junior hockey transfer agreement, and he has helped USA Hockey on coaching education. The Gretzky Award pays tribute to an international citizen who has made major contributions to the growth and advancement of hockey in the United States. The Gretzky Award is not issued yearly; the last two recipients were Anatoli Tarasov in 2008 and Herb Brooks in 2004.
The AHL Hershey Bears started off a busy weekend on the right foot, taking a 3-2 decision from the Senators in Binghamton on Friday night. Goaltender Dany Sabourin, getting his first start of the season, was stellar between the pipes for Hershey. Sabourin stopped 42 of the 44 shots sent in his