To see Mike Modano in Toronto is to see a man in his element. He knows this place. He knows the best restaurants, the best hotels and he seems to know all four million people in this hockey city. To see Mike Modano at the Air Canada Centre is to see a man who has spent as much time at hockey rinks as any human on the planet, he is very comfortable there. To see Mike Modano in the Hockey Hall of Fame is to see a man who feels uncomfortable, uncertain and unworthy. He must be the only first ballot Hall-of-Famer ever to feel that way.
That is who Mike Modano is, a humble super star.
I was fortunate enough to spend induction weekend with Mo in Toronto. We spoke to his mom and dad at length about what this meant to them. Ultimately, they concluded that it was the final chapter in the hockey career of their son and they are sad because they miss it terribly. Mike’s dad remembered fondly the car trips all over the US and Canada to play hockey. He remembered the trips to Prince Albert where Mike played Juniors. From Detroit that was a three hour flight to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and then a ninety miles trip north to PA as it is known in Junior Hockey. Mo’s dad said the road from Saskatoon to Prince Albert was always icy and sometime it would take hours just to finish that leg of the trip. Mike tears up anytime he talks about how much he appreciates his parents. That is who Mike Modano is, a loving son.
We talked to Mike’s wife Allison. This former star of the Golf Channel’s Big Break never saw her husband play hockey. Since her dad Joe Micheletti is a former NHL player and current broadcaster of the New York Rangers, she had heard of Mo. But she was not familiar with his work. She says their first date was playing golf together, they only played nine holes that day, she thinks it might be because she was beating her future husband at the turn. She is totally comfortable in her role as the mother of their twins, but Mike has all but insisted that she pursue her career as a professional golfer. He says he had a chance to follow his dream and he wants her to be able to do the same, even if it means that he is Mr. Mom for a while. That is who Mike Modano is, a supportive husband.
We interviewed Mike multiple times over the course of the weekend, we even got a chance to show him his Hall of Fame Plaque for the first time. Doing all those interviews with Mo reminded me of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. When the Stars made two runs at Lord Stanley’s Cup we followed them every step of the way. There were plenty of days when we would interview Mike after a morning skate, then we would do a pre-game interview with him and of course we had to interview him after the game. I remember saying at the time that Mo is the only super star athlete who would tolerate that much media time. That is who Mike Modano is, a patient purveyor of the game.
I rarely use this space for self promotion but allow me to boast about Fox Sports SW. We are the only media outlet in North America that went to Toronto to cover Mo’s induction. We got great stuff and on December 6th we will present a program called Spotlight: Mike Modano – Hall-of-Famer. Watch this program or set you DVR so you can find out more about who Mike Modano really is.