Modano headlines as Stars celebrate 1st NHL draft in Texas
DALLAS (AP) The Dallas Stars are celebrating 25 years in Texas by hosting the NHL draft for the first time.
The headliner for the home team had a little anniversary of his own: retired franchise icon Mike Modano marking 30 years since he was the No. 1 overall pick by helping introduce the Stars’ first-round pick, Canadian forward Ty Dellandrea, on Friday night.
Sharing the stage with high-scoring Dallas winger Jamie Benn, Modano only had to look up to see his No. 9 hanging from the rafters at the other end of American Airlines Center.
The highest-scoring U.S.-born player in NHL history was the first pick by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988, five years before the franchise moved to North Texas.
”I’ve been thinking about it,” Modano said. ”Didn’t really ring a bell till about a month ago when they started saying some stuff, called me to do some intros. I was like, `Dang, yeah, ’88, 2018.’ I was like, `That was quick.”’
Modano watched hockey grow from almost nothing in North Texas, but couldn’t say he was surprised his old franchise got the draft since a new arena that opened in 2001 brought the All-Star game six years later. The 48-year-old figured it was just a matter of time.
”I think a lot of things happened along the way that we didn’t think,” Modano said. ”Just kind of gives people a little bit of knowledge of the town. There’s hockey down in Texas and it’s alive and kicking. Brings a lot of attention to this town for hockey for a good week.”
Modano gigged the current captain of the Stars during their presentation, saying he wasn’t on stage when Benn got drafted and Benn responding that they didn’t bring fifth-round picks to the stage.
Benn, the 2015 Art Ross Trophy winner as the NHL’s points leader, is up to fifth on the club’s career scoring list after getting taken 129th overall in 2007. Benn’s rookie season was Modano’s last in Dallas.
”We worked on that for a little bit,” Modano said with a smile.
Dellandrea, the 13th overall pick, was 10 when Modano retired in 2011 after one season with Detroit. Modano debuted as an 18-year-old with the North Stars and spent 20 seasons combined in Minnesota and Dallas. His American records are 557 goals and 1,359 points.
”I might have been a little young,” said the 17-year-old Dellandrea, who spent the past two seasons with Flint of the Ontario Hockey League. ”But both of them have been tremendous role models to look up to as a young hockey player.”
Now one of them is a teammate.
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