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With Mike Modano’s retirement this week, we bring up the debate of who is the best U.S. hockey player of all-time. Is it Modano? Chris Chelios? Brian Leetch? Someone else? Patrick and I debate…
By Ryan Porth
When it comes to hockey players from the United States, Mike Modano is undoubtedly the best there’s ever been (and possibly the most important).
Modano’s impact on USA Hockey on and off the ice was important in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. On the ice, Modano was a big part of the U.S. teams that had success in the Olympics, World Cup of Hockey and even World Championships. Off the ice, he was one of the faces of USA Hockey and a great leader. He was someone a lot of youngsters looked up to when they were growing up. He also has a big stake in what youth hockey has developed into in Texas.
Modano had great success in the NHL in his 21-year career. He led the Stars organization through the relocation from Minneapolis to Dallas, and through the change of arenas in Big D. He was a big on-ice contributor in multiple playoff runs, which included three Stanley Cup final appearances with the Stars (once in Minnesota, twice in Dallas). Modano came away victorious once, in 1999 against Buffalo.
The Livonia, Mich., native finishes his NHL career ranked 22nd all-time in goals (561) and points (1,374). Both of those statistics are records for U.S.-born players.
A lot of people were turned off by Modano signing with the Detroit Red Wings for a last chance at Stanley Cup glory. But to be honest, he’s one of the few that deserves a free pass to do so. You can’t knock a guy for wanting to keep going in his career, though he had the perfect send-off in 2010 in Dallas when it was thought that it would be his last game ever at home.
Modano will always be a legend in Dallas. The same goes for USA Hockey. He’s the best U.S.-born hockey player to ever live.
By Patrick Hoffman
When talking about the greatest American-born hockey players, one should look no further than former defenseman Chris Chelios.
While Chelios may not have as many points as the likes of Mike Modano, Jeremy Roenick, Brett Hull, Phil Housley and several others on the scoring leader board, “Cheli” had a lot to offer as a hockey player.
For starters, there was his defensive style of play. Chelios was a terrific shutdown defenseman who played against the other team’s top lines, blocked shots, logged a ton of minutes and threw the body.
He was also a defenseman that could do things with the puck and put up points. In his long, long career, Chelios finished with 185 goals and 763 assists for 948 points. He was just as much as an offensive contributor in the playoffs as he posted 144 points (31 goals and 113 assists) in an astounding 268 games.
Chelios was also a player that garnered many accolades in his 26 NHL seasons. As a member of the Montreal Canadiens, he won one Stanley Cup in 1986. Furthermore, as a member of the Detroit Red Wings, he won the Cup twice (2002 and 2008). He won three Norris Trophies as the league’s best defenseman. He was a member of the 1st or 2nd All-Star team seven times. In his 26 years in the NHL, he only missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in two of them.
He was also a key cog in USA Hockey when it came to international play. Chelios has represented in Team USA in 10 major international tournaments. He won a World Cup in 1996 and in 2002, helped Team USA to a Silver Medal in Salt Lake City.
Simply put, Chelios has done it all when it comes to hockey. He may not have the most points, but no one has represented USA Hockey better than Chelios.
Photos credit: Getty Images
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