Even without a big marketing slash, it just may have been Legends Night at Staples Center on Monday.
Which leads to the today’s question, is Modano the greatest American-born hockey player of all-time?
Below would be the guys generally considered the seven leading candidates. Ranger fans would probably say Mike Richter should be included, but he’s just a notch below this group. And some will argue for Mike Eruzione (part of the US team that defeated the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics). However, he too is more realistically not part of this elite bunch.
What do you think?
The seven leading candidates in alphabetical order:
Chris Chelios – one of the strongest and most competitive players of the last few decades, maybe ever…won an NCAA championship at Wisconsin…multiple Stanley Cups (1986 Montreal, 2002 and 2008 Detroit)…three-time Norris Trophy winner …played past the age of 45 and was still in better shape than most players in the league…a warrior in every sense of the word…is also a four-time Olympian, captaining Team USA three times…retired last year having played more NHL games than any other American-born player…he missed the playoffs only twice in his long career (and one of those was last year with Atlanta)
Phil Housley – he saw the ice like few others…when you think power play quarterback, think Phil Housley…although he was on the smaller side (5′ 10″, 180 lbs), he played over 1,400 games, spanning 21 seasons and ended his career with 1,232 points. Unfortunately, he retired having played more games than any other player not to have won the Stanley Cup.
Brian Leetch – if Mark Messier was the heart and soul of the 1994 New York Ranger team, Leetch was probably the brain…his 34 points in 23 playoff games earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP that year…a two-time Norris Trophy winner and he won the Calder Trophy his rookie season with 23 goals…finished his career with five 20-goal seasons and 1,028 points.
Mike Modano – won a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999, but the legend began much earlier…drafted first overall by the Stars as a 17-year old, he was one of the most consistent players of the ’90s…until the last two years, he’s also been one of the most durable players in the game, rarely taking a night off…he’s already the all-time American-born goals and points leader and continues to add to his totals…perhaps what separates him from the other offensive forwards on this list is his strong defensive play…he remains one of the best two-way centers in the game.
Joe Mullen – not being drafted by an NHL team meant nothing to Joe Mullen…he became the first American-born player to score 500 goals and collect 1,000 points…in 17 NHL seasons, with multiple teams, he never missed the playoffs…three Stanley Cups and two Lady Byng Trophies…Mullen got the job done every night.
Jeremy Roenick – While Kings fans will be quick to dismiss him based upon his time in LA, removing that year from the record shows a player just as worthy as anybody else on this list. He’s one of the best power forwards of all-time, showing an amazing blend of grit, speed and skill. There may not have been a tougher player in the league to play against than JR in his prime. He led the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1991 and came close again with Philadelphia in 2004, but never did get to sip from Lord Stanley’s Cup…was the third American-born player to reach the 500-goal mark, finishing his 17-year career with 513 goals and 1,363 points.
Pat LaFontaine – we’ll never know just what LaFontaine could have done…his career was cut short after multiple concussions, retiring at 33…he averaged 48 goals per season from 1987-93, no other American player has ever had as dominant a stretch as that…known for his strength, quickness and playmaking ability, he reached 1,000 career points in 847 games, quicker than Roenick (961) and Modano (965)…he will probably forever hold the record for most points in a single-season by an American (with 148).
Now it’s time to vote…
Poll closes Wednesday 3/2 at noon PST.
Interview with Mike Modano – in-depth conversation covering his whole career