It’s been a big week for the Dallas Stars franchise, as the team’s ownership situation seems less and less muddled. While the future is starting to look brighter, the team finally closed the book on its first hockey generation thanks to the retirement announcement of their greatest Star ever: Mike Modano. He shared the news via Facebook on Wednesday, but held his official press conference this afternoon.
The ceremony began with a speech by long-time Dallas Stars (and even Minnesota North Stars) play-by-play guy Ralph Strangis, who summarized Modano’s career with humor and effusive praise. Daryl “Razor” Reaugh narrated a video montage of Modano’s best moments and transformation into an elite two-way center in a way only he could – including using the word “lethality.” Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk then presented the one-day “contract” the team signed Modano to, who put on his number 9 jersey one last time to an ovation.
Modano became emotional almost immediately when he began his speech, although he frequently injected some humor into the conference, including a reference to his “very stylish mullet.” Modano drew plenty of laughs when he expressed his wish that his wife Willa Ford could have seen him play hockey in his prime, as well.
He thanked just about everyone involved with his career, from his first roommate on the North Stars to fans in both markets and people behind the scenes. Modano discussed selling the sport of hockey to a Cowboys-obsessed region, even thanking local media members (including “those clowns at The Ticket”). He also spoke about his final season with the Detroit Red Wings, thanking Mike Babcock and Ken Holland for the opportunity to give it one more shot. Modano concluded the conference by thanking his parents, with both joining him on the podium for some tearful hugs. Former Stars owner Norm Green then summed everything up with some impromptu comments.
Perhaps this quote summarizes the press conference the best, though.
“You wonder what this day would be like and it feels pretty overwhelming,” Modano said, fighting back tears. “I look back at 21 years with one franchise and I think that’s what made me the most proud of anything.”
Few players have made an impact on their respective teams like Modano did with the Stars. He also ranks as one of the most important American hockey players of all-time. Modano finished his career with a slew of Stars’ franchise records and scored more goals and points than any U.S.-born player, but his contributions went beyond on-ice achievements.
For more on Modano …
Check out this post for more of Modano’s reflections on his career and more perspective on his legacy, go here for information about his one-day contract and read this article about his initial announcement.
One could probably claim that Mike Modano’s is part of the reason there is a U.S. version of the NHL Network, so it only makes sense that both NHL.com and NHL Network are going the extra mile to cover his retirement announcement.
Both the league’s official Web site and channel are scheduled to carry his 2 pm ET press conference today. Along with streaming live on NHL.com, the Dallas Stars’ Web site will also stream Modano’s presser. NHL Network also debut a tribute program called “American Icon” at 6 pm ET on Saturday.
PHT will keep an eye on the press conference today and we’ll also provide some thoughts on “American Icon” if it’s interesting enough on Saturday. It’s great to see the league give Modano’s retirement the treatment and attention it deserves.
As we speculated before, Calgary Flames veteran Craig Conroy made his retirement official today with a press conference. Don’t worry about him finding a job in a tough economy though; Conroy and the Flames also announced that he would serve as a “special assistant” to GM Jay Feaster.
Conroy played 16 seasons and more than 1,000 games in the NHL despite going in the sixth round (123rd overall) in the 1990 draft. He scored 182 goals and 360 assists for 542 points in his NHL career.
The two-way center was known for his frankness and openness with the hockey media, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him on TV in the future. If being Feaster’s “special assistant” isn’t too time consuming, that is.
For some reason, professional athlete retirement press conferences rarely break the mold yet they’re almost always fascinating (and occasionally, if you care about that given player, they might even make it a little dusty in whatever room you’re inhabiting).
Bill Guerin’s emotional speech falls under that category, as he loses it while discussing the sacrifices made by his family during an 18-year career with eight different NHL teams. Even if his family wasn’t uprooted during every location change (particularly brief trade deadline deals), that’s still a lot of moving to adjust to.
(The best moment of the video might come at the end, as the camera caught his daughters looking a bit stunned.)
Guerin had a prolific NHL career. He won two Stanley Cups many years apart, as one came with New Jersey in 1994-95 and one with Pittsburgh in 2008-09. In 1,263 regular season games, Guerin scored 429 goals and 427 assists for 856 points. Guerin played in 140 playoff games with 39 goals and 35 assists for 74 points. Those aren’t Hall of Fame numbers, but he put together an outstanding 18-year career in the NHL and it’s quite possible we might see the interesting ex-forward on TV shows for years to come if he chooses.