Mike Modano is considered by many as one of the best players in NHL history. But when Modano started his career, he had no idea how much of an impact he would make on the hockey community. PopCulture.com had a chance to speak to Modano and asked him about his expectations when he started his hockey journey.
"I had no idea what the draft was, what was leading up to it," Modano said, who was playing in Canada before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988. "Obviously, there's nothing close to the exposure that it is today with everything, how things are covered nationally and worldwide. You just go in there with blind eyes and just wing it and try to get accommodated to the league, but you're around some bigger older guys. Now, you're dealing with guys who have family or 18 and just want to have fun. But yeah, with that, you get picked by Minnesota out of the draft and comes a little pressure and expectations."
Modano would spend the next 20 seasons with the organization. The team moved to Dallas in 1993 and changed its name to Stars. Modano became an all-star when the team switched locations and helped the team win the Stanley Cup in 1999. In his final NHL season, Modano joined the Detroit Redwings and scored 15 points in 40 games. He became a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014 as he holds NHL records for goals by a player born in the United States (561), points by an American-born player (1,374), and games played by an American-born forward (1,499).
"That was kind of naive and not really thought out well, but yeah, then go to 22 years, and I'm blinking a blink of an eye and things happen you're around some great teams, great players, great teammates," Modano said who admitted he thought he would only five years and then calling it a career. "You're put in a position to maybe have some success; it really was something I never expected at all in a million years."
Modano, 50, continues to be involved with the NHL as he's been doing some consulting work with the Minnesota Wild. The NHL has started its playoffs, but one of the more interesting stories happened earlier this month with the New York Rangers. The team demanded that the NHL Department of Player Safety George Parros be fired after Washington Capitals player Tom Wilson was not suspended for punching Rangers player Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head while he was facedown on the ice. Wilson also threw Rangers star forward Artemi Panarin to the ice and was only fined $5,000 for his actions.
"I mean, if you're a New York fan, you want Wilson, gone for about a half a dozen games and Washington, I don't know," Modano said. "Tom Wilson's great player and he's one of those guys that you hate to play against, but you'd love him when he's on your team because he can be tough and be nasty, but he can still score and contribute and he helps that team a lot at the playoffs. Those don't grow on trees anymore. A lot of those guys aren't even in your league much longer, but yeah, that was a tough call for the NHL and those teams."