Mike Modano now works in the Stars' front office. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Detroit — Thursday marked the 15th anniversary of Brett Hull’s dramatic triple overtime goal over the Buffalo Sabries, giving Dallas its first Stanley Cup.
Westland native Mike Modano assisted on both Stars goals that night against Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek and hoisted the Stanley Cup minutes later.
But there wasn’t much Thursday in terms of celebrating the anniversary. Modano and his wife Allison are expecting twins within a few weeks.
“A lot going on,” Modano said. “The anticipation and preparation. It’s an exciting time.
“I can’t believe it’s been 15 years. Gone by quick.”
Hasek and Modano are likely to be linked again Monday. Both are expected to be named to the Hockey Hall of Fame, two of four former Red Wings on the ballot with Hall of Fame credentials.
Chris Osgood and Brian Rafalski are also on the ballot and are at least in the discussion of being Hall of Fame worthy.
Incidentally, all but Hasek were on the 2010-11 Red Wings team and retired that summer.
“I know for a lot of guys, making the Hall of Fame, that’s what you think about, that’s what you wonder if you’ve done enough,” Osgood said. “It’s something I’d like to make.”
Modano spent his final season with his hometown team after a legendary career with the Stars, where he is now in the front office.
As Monday’s announcement draws nearer, Modano admits he’s been thinking more about the possibility of receiving the call from the Hall of Fame.
“You wonder whether you’ve done enough to get in there,” Modano said. “When you’re a young player you don’t really think much about it, it seems so far away. When you’re done, it’s something you think about.
“It would be an honor to be recognized.”
This could be one of the deeper and most talent-filled Hall rosters in recent seasons.
Modano and Hasek are near locks to get in Monday on their first nomination. Peter Forsberg, despite an injury-riddled end to his career, seems a near certainty.
Players such as Rob Blake, Eric Lindros, Bill Guerin, Mark Recchi, Curtis Joseph, Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk are also on the ballot.
Individually, among the players with Red Wings ties, the expectations differ:
Modano is generally regarded as the best American-born player ever. He holds the record for most goals (561) and points (1,374) by an American-born player in the NHL, and won gold (1994 World Cup) and silver (2002 Olympics) medals.
Certainly few players have played with the speed and offensive and skating ability that Modano did.
“A dynamic player, skater, just an exciting player,” general manager Ken Holland said. “We felt Mo was going to be a key addition to our team, and he was rounding into form, then he got hurt.”
Modano suffered a severed tendon in his wrist which caused him to miss 41 games and essentially the remainder of his final season.
Obviously, Modano will forever be linked to the Stars, making hockey a viable sport in a non-traditional market.
But getting an opportunity to play his final season with the Red Wings was special.
“I had a ball,” Modano said. “I really did, until I got hurt. Just the response I received around town from people, getting the opportunity to play in front of family, it was special.
“Had I not gotten hurt, I really believe I could have played there another season or two.”
Some fans, some players for that matter who were never his teammates, felt Hasek was a bit laid-back.
Maybe that was partly true.
“But once the game started, he was 100 percent competitive as any teammate I ever played with,” Osgood said.
Said Holland: “Dominik Hasek was a fierce competitor.”
Hasek, of course, was a key figure in the Red Wings winning a Stanley Cup in 2002. He retired after that season but returned for a bizarre, injury-shortened 2004 season, then was signed for a third term and led the Red Wings to the Western Conference Finals in 2007 and backed up Osgood during the Stanley Cup run in 2008.
Holland feels Hasek, Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy transformed and revolutionized the goaltending position.
“What better compliment can you give a player when they’ve done that?” Holland said. “Dom would just figure out a way to make the save.”
Osgood and Hasek were goaltending partners for two seasons and Osgood said he learned quite a bit in that time.
“One of the best big-game goalies,” Osgood said. “And I learned so much from him, even at that point in my career, from the way he practiced, what he put into those practices.”
Modano never played with Hasek, but was impressed with the goaltender’s career.
“You look at his consistency throughout his career,” Modano said. “And the way he won behind two different styles (of play) in Detroit and Buffalo. It was two different styles, but he won in both.”
One of the biggest debates in hockey toward the end of Osgood’s career, and one that will fester now that’s he’s on the Hall of Fame ballot, is whether Osgood belongs in the Hall.
He ranks 10th all-time with 401 victories, was a three-time Stanley Cup champion (starting goalie in 1998 and 2008), and leads the Red Wings with 67 playoff victories and 14 shutouts.
One of the arguments against Osgood has always been it was a dominant Red Wings team in front of him. But Holland counters that many Hall of Fame goalies played on championship-caliber teams.
“Ozzie was an important player on our championship teams, and he won a lot of important games for us over the years,” Holland said.
Osgood feels he could have clinched the argument in his favor had he won Game 7 in 2009 against Pittsburgh and earned yet another Stanley Cup.
“That one still stings, I think about that one,” Osgood said.
Forever doubted by Red Wings fans, Osgood didn’t have an always smooth ride, but it likely made him a stronger-minded goaltender.
“I persevered and it probably made me mentally stronger,” Osgood said. “I always looked forward and moved on. Ken Holland taught me ‘no excuses’ and I took that on throughout my career.”
Playing in the shadow of teammates such as Nicklas Lidstrom, and Scott Stevens and Scott Neidermayer in New Jersey, Rafalski didn’t always garner the most attention.
But the defenseman enjoyed a stellar career which should earn him consideration in the coming years.
“To me, I don’t know if we win the Stanley Cup in 2008 without Raffy,” said Holland, who signed Rafalski in free agency the previous summer.
A tremendous offensive defenseman, Rafalski could make an outstanding first pass, run a power play, but also play a smart defensive game despite not being a huge defenseman.
Rafalski was an ideal partner for Lidstrom.
“They complemented each other so well,” Holland said. “They sort of defied Father Time, just the way they played. They worked so well together on the ice, knowing where each other was.
“Raffy was a perfect fit for us.”
A three-time Stanley Cup champion (2000, 2003 in New Jersey, 2008 Red Wings), Rafalski also won a Silver Medal with Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics, where he was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Defenseman.
“Probably the most underrated teammate I ever played with,” Osgood said. “Until I played with him, I had no idea how good he was.”