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11-26-02

Modano weekly wrap-up: Tuesday, November 26

Mike Modano continued his high-flying ways during this four-game week featuring three road tests against division opponents.  The Stars gained five points and built their division lead to nine following a home victory against Phoenix on Monday night.  The home win raised their record at the American Airlines Center to 8-0-0-1 and kept them unbeaten in regulation this year in Dallas. 

Wednesday, November 20 at Phoenix (T, 2-2)

Stat line:
Plus/minus: E
24:10 of ice time
 6:13 power play
 1:46 shorthanded
11 of 18 faceoffs won (61%)
Three shots on goal

Notes:
• Modano vs. Phoenix, career: 59 games, 27 goals, 43 assists, 70 points
• Named No. 3 star by Dallas Morning News
• The Dallas Morning News put together its own list of an All-America Team of U.S.-born hockey players listing Mike Modano along with Frank Brimsek, Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch, Pat Lafontaine and Joey Mullen.
• Mike ranks second all-time to Lafontaine in points per game for U.S.-born NHLers with 1.036 ranks second to Chelios in playoff scoring with 109 points in 125 games.

Quotes:
“I think what they’re doing is great.  They’ve had the nucleus for a few years and they’ve got a taste of winning in the playoffs.  You don’t think about it in October and November, but the games you win then can really pay off in April and May.  We’ve never been good at the same time. That would be something if both teams played into June.”
 Modano on the hot start by the Dallas Mavericks

“He’s an underrated player if that’s possible.  He’s an elite player in the game and has been for a number of years.  He hasn’t received the personal accolades of Hart trophies and Selke trophies, but he’s been in the running, year in and year out.  Hopefully, this year, if he continues, he’ll get that recognition because he is certainly the MVP of this organization.”
 Stars GM Doug Armstrong on Modano

“He’s helped sell the game here more than anybody.”
 Stars head coach Dave Tippett on Modano

“We were always hanging around the same rinks, so I got to follow his career and got to know him a little bit.  At the time, there weren’t a whole lot of Americans out there to emulate.  I think Pat (Lafontaine) and Phil Housley were two of the big ones that I followed.”
 Modano, discussing Pat Lafontaine, when asked about joining Lafontaine as one of five Americans to surpass 1,000 NHL career points

Friday, November 22 at Anaheim (W, 4-0)

Stat line:
One power play assist
Plus/minus: E
13:48 of ice time (season low), 19 shifts
 1:57 power play
 0:00 shorthanded
8 of 15 faceoffs won (53%)
Four shots on goal

Notes:
• Modano vs. Anaheim, career: 40 games, 18 goals, 43 assists, 61 points
• Sportsline.com moved Modano to No. 1 in its center rankings ahead of Mario Lemeiux.
• Modano’s low ice time was a reflection of the Stars large early lead which allowed Coach Tippett to rest top players for the second of back-to-back games against Los Angeles on Saturday.

Quotes:

“I keep going back comparing it to 1999 where we didn’t lose our ninth gane until maybe mid-February.  It’s one of those years.  We have great depth, we have guys chipping in at the right time and getting timely goals.”
 Modano on the team’s league-best start

Mike was the NHL’s featured player on the weekly media teleconference hosted Thursday, November 21.  Following is the transcript:

 Q. Obviously, you're having fun in that you're winning, have the best
 record in the league right now, but how much fun is it playing for Dave
 Tippett so far this season?
 
MIKE MODANO: Well, it's been a lot of fun. It's been a bit of a learning
process. I think any time you have new personnel, it's a time that you
have to earn the respect of the new coaches and a lot of the new players.
It was an exciting start to the year. We got off to a good start. I think
everybody was really committed coming into it to make a difference, to
really have the start and the transition we wanted. It's been really good
so far.
 
Q. Stylistically, what are you doing different personally? Everyone says
you're playing less in checking situations. Are you enjoying being freed
up to play in scoring situations more?
 
MIKE MODANO: As far as match-ups, we haven't been a team that's matched up
against other personnel. I think we try to match-up against other teams'
top players with our defensemen, try to get them out as much as possible.
As far as the forward situation, we've played against everybody. We think
that any of our four lines can play against other teams' top lines, the
other lines that the other teams have. That way, it's been a little bit of
a free-up. It's a tough responsibility to score in the check when you're
player against players like Sergei Fedorov, Jaromir Jagr, Peter Forsberg,
players of that caliber.
 
Q. You were one of the first guys to test the Synergy stick out in '99?
MIKE MODANO: Yes.
 
Q. What do you think of the one-piece sticks, have you tried the Cyclor?
MIKE MODANO: I tried the Cyclor against Denver. I should be getting some
more today or tomorrow. It's an amazing stick. It's light. It's
consistent. Obviously, if you ask anybody, you can shoot the puck a lot
harder and quicker. It's a great stick. Right now, it has the most
consistency of any stick.
 
Q. How much difference is there between the Cyclor and the regular Synergy
that you've been using?
 
MIKE MODANO: They tried to soften the blade up a little bit. I think the
one big complaint about the Synergy was the real hard blade, the puck
having a tendency to bounce off it. I think this in a way cushions the
blade a little bit more, limits that puck from bouncing around on you.
 
Q. It seems like you spent the entire time of the early part of the season
on the road. You let one get away at Phoenix. I know you were
disappointed. Can you talk about the Divisional opponents coming up for
you with the Ducks on Friday and Kings on Saturday? Divisional opponents
are the most critical thing you want to try to attack first.
 
MIKE MODANO: We've taken our Division, our Conference, very seriously. I
think it was a real blessing to begin all these games on the road. I think
it's really brought us together a lot. It's got us away from any
distractions at home, made us really focus on the game, our team. It's
been able to carry over at home with our record at home. It's been
untarnished of late, too.
It's been good. We wanted to get off to a good start. We were upset about
last night. We felt we deserved a little better fate. We made some
mistakes that they capitalized on to tie the game. But, hey, we have two
more big games coming up back to back, tomorrow and Saturday, big key
points, better points if we can get a couple wins before we head home.
 
Q. Could you talk about the transformation you went through over the
years? You look at Steve Yzerman, developed into a more complete player
over the years. I think you're similar to that. Do you feel this is the
most complete you've ever been as a player in every facet of the game?
 
MIKE MODANO: Well, I feel real comfortable I think at the state I'm at in
my career, as a player. There's always a learning situation every year
that you come into a season. Granted, I've had some makeovers in my
career, some changes. I think that just happens with the players around
you, the coaches you have around you. The chance of winning, you're able
to grab some depth. We grabbed some nucleus, great guys. There's a little
bit of sacrifice there. There's a lot of talent. I think you have a number
of guys who have to pull back a little bit, accept responsibility in other
areas of the game.
I think Steve did that. He was one guy I really watched to see how he
transformed his game. He added a lot to his game, he's not just a great
scorer.
 
Q. Was Ken Hitchcock a big part of how you transformed? Like you said, a
lot of it was looking at a guy like Steve.
 
MIKE MODANO: Well, Hitch came in and eventually gave me that
responsibility, saying, "This is your role." Bob never gave me that. I
think we had checkers there before. We had Mike McPhee, we had Neal
Broten, players to accept that defensive two-way role. I was just kind of
sitting in the back, just kind of biding my time, waiting for my turn.
Those players were gone, he just told me, "That's going to be your role.
If you want to accept it, we'd love for you to be in that situation." I
think once you're told that, you realize that's going to be your job, I
think you handle it a lot better.
 
Q. I wonder if you could talk about Dave Tippett in terms of comparing his
coaching style compared to other coaches you played for. His team meetings
are very short, you don't get these 19-page lists of things that you have
to do that you may have had in the past. What has it been like, what
Tippett has been like leading you guys?
 
MIKE MODANO: Well, he's very quiet I think as a guy. I think it seems like
he's really enjoying this opportunity. I think as players we're very
welcome to the overall change. You know, obviously Dave has played the
game and he understands certain situations, he understands the preparation
that goes into playing the game, game-day rituals. He's left a lot up to
us as far as players and our captains to try to prepare ourselves, get the
team ready.
He adds his points as far as a coach what he thinks we really need to
focus on as a team to really be successful, what the other team has as far
as strengths and weaknesses. He'll touch on a couple of things, that's it.
Our meetings are maybe five, not even ten minutes long. I think that
allows us more time to prepare ourselves. He's been quiet on the bench.
He'll call out the line changes, people that he wants out there. For the
most part, having played the game, he understands situations that happen
on the ice. Can't really explain that too much. It goes a long way being a
player playing for a guy like that.
 
Q. When you say he leaves it up to the captains and players to prepare, do
you get a feeling he trusts you guys?
 
MIKE MODANO: I think so. Our nucleus of guys have been here for a long
time. We've all won, we've all been through some growing pains together,
but we've all come a long way together. I think that's what he
understands. We're a veteran group. We all have won. I think that's what
he understands and respects. We respect him for allowing us to at times
work out our problems ourselves.
 
Q. You've had the chance to play with Bill Guerin in international
tournaments, short tournaments, now he's your teammate. Have you learned
anything new about him, being able to see him every day?
 
MIKE MODANO: I don't know. Obviously, he's coming in with a lot of
expectations and pressure. He's been able to handle that better than a lot
of guys that have come in here with big contracts and high hopes have.
He's just gone out there and done his job, played the way he was paid to
play. That's all you really can ask for. He's been very consistent with
his game. He's a very competitive kind of guy, comes to play. I think
that's what really makes great players in the game, and any sport, is to
be able to do it day in and day out.
 
Q. You can see him do that for six or seven games in the Olympics. To see
a guy be able to play at that level every day, does that kind of make you
say, "This is something special"?
 
MIKE MODANO: Yeah, it's a high level that we have to play, that we're
expected to play. I think it comes with the expectations of our team. We
have a great team. We have a great system. We have a good bunch of guys,
we all get along very well together. I think we all realize how good a
year we could have if we come prepared to play and give it everything
we've got every game.
Thus far, he's done that. We've all been able to feed off that, play to
the best of our ability.
 
Q. How much a part of your team's success at this point has Marty Turco
been? Did you expect him to respond this strongly when he was finally
given the number one job?
 
MIKE MODANO: Well, I think that was everybody's big question mark going
into the season from management and media, "How is Marty going to respond
to having to come in after Eddie, fill that hole?" But he has a lot of
confidence in his ability and his talent. He plays a very aggressive,
challenging style. He likes to play the puck, move around.
He's been one of the real big bright spots of our early success.
 
Q. What is Tippett's magic formula on the power play?
 
MIKE MODANO: Well, just to have a lot of patience. I think in the past
we're in such a rush to get the puck to the net, crash the net, move the
puck around. That's why they're called two-minute penalties. We have time
to work it around. We're not forcing everything. We're taking our time,
moving it around. Obviously, we work on some set plays, set situations.
But we work on it every day a lot. We kind of talk about things. Just to
know where everybody is going to be on the ice helps a lot. If you don't
have the time to get your head up and look, you know where these guys are
going to be, to relieve the pressure, make the plays, get the shots
through the net.
A lot of our success does come off the shots where we get a lot of
scrambling, they're turning their backs, we're able to find those seams.
He's been calm about it, just let us go out there and keep working at it.
We have a lot of setup time in the other team's zone, which is going to
result in some goals.
 
Q. Have you noticed any slack-off in the obstruction calls over the past
couple weeks from the first month?
 
MIKE MODANO: Not really. I think more or less the teams are starting to
understand it and really trying to learn. There's a lot more skating.
Players are skating with players rather than trying to hold on and slow
them down. The odd time, maybe a little bit in the offensive zone with the
picks coming off face-offs and stuff. I think for the most part, teams are
starting to change the way they play.
 
Q. You've been with the Stars for your entire career. A lot of players
don't get the opportunity to stay with a team that originally drafted
them. How much does it mean to you to have been with that same team for
your entire career?
 
MIKE MODANO: It's meant a lot. I think that's the one thing I'm really
kind of thankful for, lucky for, too. There's been a lot of ups and downs
in this organization, a lot of players have come and gone through the time
that I've been here. But to work through that, then to finally be on the
other side, enjoying the success, sticking through the tough times to
really enjoy the good times. It's been a lot of fun down in Dallas. It's
been a great 10 years. It's been a real thrill to start and finish
something with the same team.
 
MODERATOR: Thanks very much, Mike.
 
MIKE MODANO: Okay.

Saturday, November 23 at Los Angeles (L, 0-2)

Stat line:
Plus/minus: -2
23:31 of ice time, 28 shifts
 3:52 power play
 1:53 shorthanded
19 of 26 faceoffs won (73%)
Two shots on goal

Notes:
• Modano vs. Los Angeles, career: 51 games, 24 goals, 33 assists, 57 points
• Modano’s regular left winger, Ulf Dahlen, was injured in the second period and Coach Tippett used a variety of line combinations for the rest of the game.

Quotes:

“His demeanor on the bench, during practice and meetings, it’s really different.  It’s almost calming, relaxing, a confident kind of sound to it.  You’re not revved up. You’re not nervous.  We prepare ourselves the same against any team.  If teams are going to beat us, they’re going to beat us at our game.”
 Modano on Coach Tippett’s style 

The following is the report on Modano from the Hockey Scouting Report 2003:

THE FINESSE GAME
Modano is one of the game’s most well-rounded players.  He has world-class skills that match those of just about any player in the NHL.  Modano is not a physical player, but he isn’t soft.  When there is a lot of open ice, he’s a thrilling player to watch.  He has outstanding offensive instincts and great hands, and he is a smooth passer and a remarkable skater in all facets.

Modano makes other players around him better, which is the mark of a superstar.  His speed and agility with the puck leave defenders mesmerized and open up ice for his linemates.

Modano has become a top penalty killer.  His anticipation and quick hands help him intercept passes.  By going to a straighter stickblade he has improved his face-offs and become so reliable defensively that he is thrown onto the ice in the closing minutes of a period or game.

Like Steve Yzerman, Modano learned that flirting with 100-point seasons was fun, but to become a champion one has to sacrifice some of the offensive spark to play a better all-round game.  Modano has done so.

THE PHYSICAL GAME
He plays through injuries, and in his own way Modano is strong and tough – maybe not aggressive and feisty, but questions about his hockey courage have been quelled forever.  He is a gamer.

THE INTANGIBLES
Joe Nieuwendyk’s departure placed more pressure on Modano, but Bill Guerin’s addition should help both on the ice and in the dressing room.  Missing the playoffs for the first time since 1996 had to sting, and Modano has had a long off-season to think about how to fix it.

Monday, November 25 vs. Phoenix(W, 5-1)

Stat line:
One goal, one assist
Plus/minus: +1
19:10 of ice time, 24 shifts
 3:54 power play
 1:32 shorthanded
16 of 27 faceoffs won (59%)
Three shots on goal

Notes:
• Modano vs. Phoenix, career: 60 games, 28 goals, 44 assists, 72 points
• With Ulf Dahlen being held out as a precaution from his injury in Los Angeles, Jere Lehtinen skated on Modano’s left wing.
• Modano was selected the No. 1 star by the Dallas Morning News.
• The Stars are promoting their five All-Star nominations with special campaign-style buttons.  Modano’s button says “Make it Mo!”

Quotes:

“There’s a little bit of additional expectations when we’re out there.  We are all counted on to play the same way, but maybe we can add a little more with what we do on offense.”
 Modano on his regular line with Dahlen and Bill Guerin

“We’ve always been able to create offense from our defense in the past and we’re trying to get that across now.  We’re smothering the opposition, especially at home.”
 Modano on the team’s two-way focus

From The Hockey Digest, a bio file on Modano written by Scoop Malinowski:

Childhood heroes: Daryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  He was a strong two-way player, I thought.  Real smart to watch on the ice.  And also Alan Trammell of the Detroit Tigers.

Nicknames: Mo, Yank

Hobbies and interests: Golf (“I’d like to give it a try after hockey.”), travel in the offseasson.

Funny hockey memory: When I was with Minnesota (in 1988), Kari Takko bought a lobster in Boston and put it in my garment bag.  And when I opened the bag in Montreal, the lobster was snapping at me.  He had taken the rubber bands off the claws.  My roommate Reed Larson called room service and they took it down and cooked it for us.

Favorite movies: Young Frankenstein, Used Cars

Musical tastes: Heavy rock & roll, Stone Temple Pilots, Danzig, Mettalica, Van Halen (with David Lee Roth)

First job: Delivering drywall at the lumber yard in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan as a 17-year-old

First car: 1976 green Chevy Impala

Favorite meal: Chicken parmigiana and glass of Silver Oak ‘91

Favorite breakfast cereal: Frosted Flakes

Favorite ice cream flavor: Haagan Daz butter pecan

Favorite vacation spot: Cabo San Lucas

Toughest competitor: Chris Chelios is the toughest to play against.  One-on-one, he’s probably the best in the league.  He’s tough to beat.  He seems to recover fast if he’s caught out of position.  He is a smart player.

Closest NHL friends: Matt Scheider, Jeremy Roenick, Tony Amonte, Keith Tkachuk, Bill Guerin

Pregame feeling: I’m a little nervous.  I feel a little pressure, knowing I have to outplay the other team’s best players.  I go over plays in my head, thinking about what I will try to do in certain situations.

Last Halloween costume: I had a Nixon mask at a team party a few years back.

Interesting fact: I’m shy, quiet.  I don’t like big crowds.  People find it hard to get to know me.

Greatest sports moment: Winning the Stanley Cup (1999), for sure.  And winning the World Cup over Canada (1986).

Most painful moments: There are a couple.  One was the concussion I got from the shoulder of Mark Messier.  And then I ruptured some ankle tendons and missed the rest of the year in 1995.

People most admired: People that come up against adversity and learn from it and become a better person from it.  I think everybody goes through tough times in life and you become a better person if you learn in different situations.  Sometimes it takes adversity to learn the life we have is better than in some other countries.

The Week Ahead
Wednesday, November 27 vs. Minnesota (FSN, 7:30)
Friday, November 29 vs. New York Rangers (Ch. 27, 7:30)
Saturday, November 30 at Nashville (Ch. 27, 7:00)