An imposing blend of size, speed and grace, Mike Modano was one of the most exciting NHL stars of the 1990's. A lifetime member of the Stars franchise in Minnesota and Dallas, he became one of the most successful American born players in NHL history. He was a consistent scorer whose point totals would likely have been higher had the Stars not been a defensive-oriented team. Nonetheless he was vital part of a team that reached the Stanley Cup finals in 1991 and won the first championship in franchise history in 1999.
A native of suburban Detroit, Michigan, Modano was a local star who chose the Canadian Hockey League over any scholarship offers from U.S. colleges. He enjoyed three outstanding seasons with the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. Modano first gained wide attention after the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau lauded his potential and he stood out for the United States at the 1988 and 1989 World Junior Championships.
Following a 127-point season for Prince-Albert, Modano was the first player chosen at the 1988 NHL Entry Draft when the Minnesota North Stars called his name. He was returned to junior in 1988-89 where enjoyed another strong season. He registered 105 points in only 41 games and was placed on the WHL East All-Star Team.
Modano proved he was ready for the NHL when he totalled 75 points as a rookie in 1989-90 and was runner-up to Calgary Flames forward Sergei Makarov in Calder Trophy voting, but Modano did receive a small consolation in the form of selection to the NHL's All-Rookie Team.
During his sophomore season in 1990-91 he scored 64 points but saved his best hockey for the playoffs. After a 68-point season, the North Stars upset the President's trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks in the first round then went all the way to the final where they lost to Mario Lemieux's Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. Modano scored 20 points in 23 games and dazzled many observers with his immense skill and speed for a player 6'3" and 200lbs.
Modano continued to be a consistent scorer for the Stars through the remainder of the decade. When the franchise relocated to Dallas in 1993-94, he responded with his first 50-goal season. He later helped the team reach the 100-point mark three straight years from 1996-97 to 1998-99. Modano's excellence and flair on the ice was a key selling point as the club tried to develop a solid fan base once the novelty of ice hockey dissipated.
In 1998-99 he led all playoff performers with 18 assists as the Stars won their first Stanley Cup in a hard fought six game series against the Buffalo Sabres. During the 1999-00 season Modano led the Stars with 81 points in 77 games as they finished first in the Pacific division. The team returned to the Stanley Cup final in 2000, only to come up short against the New Jersey Devils.
During the 2002-03 season, Modano surpassed 1,000 games played, 600 assists and 1,000 points total and went on to represent the U.S. at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
Modano's ascent to the upper echelon of NHL stars made him an important player for the United States. He represented his country at the World Championships in 1990 and 1993 and the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics. In 1991 he helped the U.S. finish second to Canada at the 1991 Canada Cup then scored six points in seven games five years later as the U.S. won the inaugural World Cup of hockey. In Nagano Modano was arguably the most consistent forward on a disappointing U.S. team that failed to win a medal. At the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Modano and his teammates made up for their disappointment in 1998 by capturing a silver medal. In 2004, Modano went on to represent the U.S. for a second time at the World Cup of Hockey and in the spring of 2005 was named to the U.S. World Championship team.
In 2006, Modano represented his homeland for the third time in his career on the Olympic stage, however Team USA returned home from Turino without a medal. After yet another season in which Modano led the Stars in points scored, the Michigan native broke the all-time U.S. born goal leader mark set by Joe Mullen at 502 goals. The milestones continued for Modano the following season, during an 82-game campaign, Modano became the all-time American points leader and for the sixteenth time he scored over 20 goals for the Stars.
On August 3, 2010, Modano would leave the only franchise he had ever known. After being informed the Stars would not be re-signing him, Modano, a Michigan native signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings. He left Dallas as the franchise all-time leader in games played, goals, assists and points.