Friday, April 9, 2010

The night a non-hockey fan almost cried at a hockey game (now with video!)

I'm not a big time hockey fan. I know the rules. I follow the Stars at arms length. I like to attend games and enjoy being there, but I'm not parked on my couch watching Stars hockey. That being the case, I know who Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen are. No slight to Jere Lehtinen, who's a Dallas icon on the level of Too Tall Jones, but this is going to be focused on Mike Modano.

Modano is synonymous with Dallas hockey. You could say that he's the guy more responsible than anyone else for bringing hockey to the city and making it something that a football crazy town watched and followed. Most points by an American born player. One Stanley Cup. Willa Ford as a wife. Icon status in the city. Never seemed above anyone, damn near seemed like a guy you might just as well grab a beer with.

Modano has been with the same franchise in the NHL for 21 years. That's unheard of in today's day and age. It's a well known fact, this was Modano's last game in a Stars sweater at the AAC. I hope that Modano realized what he means to the city and even the most casual of fans. I'd like to think there was a moment where it dawned on him last night.

See, in the 3rd period, with about 5 minutes left, there was a TV timeout after a Turco stop. During the timeout, the AAC video board showed a close up on Modano. The entire arena erupted in cheers. Everyone stood up, the applause and cheer didn't stop or wane. Modano sat there, seemingly unaffected, as he was resting from a line change. As the cheers continued, Modano bent down to what appeared to simply be adjusting or re-tying his skate, and when he came up, his whole face was drenched in tears and his eyes were red. It was that point, the entire Dallas and Anaheim benches stood up and started banging their sticks on the glass. The crowd got even louder, and even the most casual of fan in the arena was screaming their head off or in tears themselves. I got choked up, I know that much. I was sitting next to a long time season ticket holder, a big, burly good ol' boy, and he was bawling like a 10 year old.

Modano went on to score the tying goal and leading the charge in the shootout for one of the most emotional games in Stars history. At the end of the game, the Stars bench left the ice, and Modano skated out to mid-ice for one last curtain call to a still full arena. He was teary eyed and simply held up his hand and mouthed "thank you" to the fans.

For a sport that's fourth place in a city that tends to turn on athletes at the drop of a hat, Mike Modano has always held a special place in Dallas's fandom. We've adopted him as our own, and he'll join the echelon of ambassadorship and iconic figure for hockey as Roger is for the Cowboys, Nolan is for the Rangers and Dirk will be for the Mavericks.

Modano took the time to acknolwedge the fans and thank them/us for our unabashed support for him. I say thank you, Mike Modano, for letting fans be fans and for reminding us that sports are an escape, a passion and sometimes a hyperbolic fairy tale that let's adults feel like kids again.

Here's some video (via Puck Daddy at Yahoo! Sports Blogs)...though it really doesn't do the justice of what it really felt like

1 comment:

Bear said...

Awesome... I just cried at work! I feel like such a vagina!