Driving into Dallas yesterday afternoon, I could swear my arm hairs were standing on end – just seeing the city skyline gave me goosebumps. It had been nine years since I was at American Airlines Center to see the Stars and what a night to come back. Mike Modano would be returning to the city and the arena that was his home for so many years, but he would be suited up for one of the Dallas Stars most hated rivals – the Detroit Red Wings.
Stepping into American Airlines Center, I was surprised to see so much red. I always knew the Wings were one of the Stars biggest rivals, but had no idea how many Red Wings fans showed up to Dallas when their team played. Of course, there were tons of Zetterberg and Datsyuk jerseys, but it wasn’t until I saw a #90 Modano jersey that it really hit me. Mikey Mo was no longer a Dallas Star after almost 20 years with the organization. Like many other hockey fans, Mike Modano was one of the reasons I started watching. In the late 90s the Stars were electric and seeing guys like Modano and Nieuwendyk remain a part of the organization for so long was really inspiring. Being there really took me back to a time when I first fell in love with hockey…the days when the “eagle” Eddie Belfour guarded the net for the Stars..days when the team won the Stanley Cup.
The opening video for the Stars however was a look at the future. With Mike Modano playing on the other side of the ice and Marty Turco up in Chicago, the Stars were a new team. When the opening notes of Jay-Z and Rihanna’s “Run this Town” started playing and the images of the Stars players around the city of Dallas flashed across the screen, a new kind of chill ran through me. This was one of hope, of promise of uncertainty for the future. This was a team that, although it has a very capable captain in Brendan Morrow, looks to each other for success. From top to bottom of the roster, I feel like these players draw on each other’s experience and work to find ways to exploit the areas where each excels. And this is the kind of team that wins.
Of course when they put Mike up on the big screen with a “Thank you Mike,” and the crowd went to their feet, I could not help but hold back tears. Tears of joy? Sadness? I am not sure, but I was certainly overcome with emotion. Seeing his face and the emotions he was experiencing was just incredible. Mike Modano is one of the reasons I fell in love with the great sport of hockey and the Dallas Stars. This moment was more than worth the price of my ticket.
Dallas went on to win the game 4-1. When the Wings scored their first goal of the night, I got chills again when the crowd started chanting, “It just doesn’t matter.” Despite the love everyone felt for Modano, this night was really about the team, the future, these Stars. The win over the Red Wings put Dallas at 3-0 for the season..somewhere many thought they had no chance to be this year. While the Stars did lose their first game Monday night, they have already accomplished more than many believed they could. I have a feeling the Dallas Stars will continue to surprise people this year.