By Mike McMahon
When Mike Modano retired, he had more goals and assists than any other American-born player, and held nearly every Stars franchise record. On Saturday night, the teeam retired his iconic No.9 jersey in a pre-game ceremony.
Drafted first-overall in 1989 by the Minnesota North Stars out of the Western Hockey League, Modano took the NHL by storm with his speed and scoring touch, tallying 29 goals with 46 assists as a 19-year-old.
"It was a privilege to wear that North Star sweater. ... I couldn't have picked a better place to start my career," said Modano in his speech during the ceremony before the Stars took on the Minnesota Wild.
In 1993, the 23-year-old Modano faced the challenge of making NHL hockey popular in Texas when the North Stars moved south to Dallas. In his first season in Texas, he produced his lone 50-goal campaign. The Michigan native spent the next 16 seasons with the Stars, winning the Stanley Cup in 1999 and setting team records for games played (1,459), goals (557), assists (802) and points (1,359). He finished his career with Detroit in the 2010-2011 season, and announced his retirement shortly thereafter at the age of 41.
Modano was joined on the center-ice stage by his '99 championship teammates, including the captain of that team, Derian Hatcher, who carried out the Cup and presented it to the crowd.
The No. 9 jersey will join Neal Broten's 7, Bill Goldsworthy's 8, and Bill Masterton's 19 in the American Airlines Center rafters in Dallas.
The Stars' icon choked up several times during his speech, most notably while thanking his parents Mike Sr. and Karen, and when crediting former assistant coach Bob Gainey.
The greatest American goal-scorer, known for his iconic jersey flap, finished his 21-year NHL career with 561 goals, 813 assists, and 1374 points to go with 11 NHL All-Star Game selections, three Olympic appearances (he won silver at Salt Lake City in 2002), and a gold medal in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. His storied career was celebrated with help from several Dallas sports icons who joined the festivities, including Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Dirk Nowitzki, along with players around the NHL:
Players around the NHL also congratulated Modano on Twitter:
Every Stars player sported a Modano No. 9 sweater during warmups before their matchup with the Wild.