As one of the bigger hockey supporters in the DFW media, allow me to say what a pleasure it was to witness #500 for Mike Modano last night …Mike Modano = pure class…
Mike Modano scored his 500th goal, making him the 39th NHL player to reach that plateau, as the Stars beat the Flyers 3-2 at American Airlines Center. Modano is the second U.S.-born player to reach 500 and is only two goals behind U.S. record holder Joe Mullen.
For Modano, reaching 500 is just more proof he's feeling better than he has in months.
"The legs have gotten under me, so I knew, in that respect, I'd get some chances," he said. "There were a couple of opportunities on power plays, and I had some good looks at it. We were around it, so I just had to be patient."
And then, it happened.
The crowd was just starting to calm down after Jussi Jokinen scored the go-ahead goal 9:02 into the third period.
Only 34 seconds after the Stars took the lead, Modano corralled a rebound off Antti Miettinen's tip and flicked it in for what proved to be the winning goal.
Teammates on the ice at the time all gathered around Modano to congratulate him.
"That's the way I drew it up before the game," Modano joked afterward. "At that point, I didn't care how it went in -- whether it was off me, or a deflection. And it turned out being meaningful."
Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher, Modano's former teammate, said, "I was with Mike for 12 years, and he was great all those years. I'm excited for him."
Modano said he has talked to Mullen recently through Nolan Baumgartner, who came from the Philadelphia organization. Mullen, an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Phantoms, had one message for him: "Get it done."
Stars coach Dave Tippett said: "It's a pretty amazing feat. A franchise can have the
tradition for winning, which Dallas does. But the identity of players helps build that tradition, and Mike is at the forefront of that. He should be very proud of that."
Teammates also noticed what it did to the crowd atmosphere.
"This is the loudest we've heard the building in a long, long time," defenseman Philippe Boucher said. "Five hundred is a huge number. It's a number only a few elite players can get to, and Mike certainly fits into that category."
Elias Says …
Mike Modano scored his 500th regular-season NHL goal in the Stars' win over the Flyers on Tuesday night. Modano is the 39th player in league history to reach that plateau and the fifth to do so this season; the others were Mats Sundin, Teemu Selanne, Peter Bondra and Mark Recchi. It's the first time that as many as five players scored their 500th career goal in the same season. The previous high was four in 1995-96, and it was a very distinguished quartet: Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman and Dale Hawerchuk.
Something else happened last night – my first chance to witness the “Havoc Fanatics” bit that Stars actually launched on Sunday. It is basically a section of cheap seats that is designated for over-the-top Stars fans who get in free for the rest of the season (including playoffs) in exchange for being crazy.
This arena has lacked atmosphere for the most part since the lockout. I used to blame the building, but then I went to Mavericks games. I used to blame the sport, then I went to see games in Canada and remember nights at Reunion Arena. I frankly had to admit that the Stars fans were simply really low-key for whatever reason. The place needed sound. The corporate suits needed to be carried by crazy fans. But the crazy fans needed to be unified. It appears that is what goes on upstairs now.
So, the Stars are trying something. And last night, I heard them the entire game, and the chants they got going spread through the arena. Perhaps the place would have been electric anyway, given the Modano 500 event, but I really liked it. I am anxious to see how it develops on Thursday and beyond.
Evidently, some critics exist on the message boards about the concept. But, to me, the bottom line is creating some level of atmosphere in that building for hockey. The end justifies the means. Good work. Keep it up.
Here are some Fanatics tryouts:
In other news, Another Mavs game of consequence tonight – Suns are here …
Here come the Suns...and the final 20 games.
The top two teams in the West lock horns for the third time this season tonight at American Airlines Center. The Mavericks claimed the first two, and the season series ends April 1 at Phoenix.
"Put it this way," Suns guard Steve Nash said, "we certainly don't want to lose all our games to them. But at the same time, when the playoffs come, this will all be forgotten."
The Mavs (52-10) have taken another step on their playoff path, completing their third "quarter" of the season in rousing fashion. They went 19-2 the past 21 games. Along the way, they enjoyed 17 straight wins, set a few team records, had an All-Star duo and clinched a spot in the postseason.
Progress has been made. Hasn't it, Avery?
"We're a little bit better than our 0-4 start, and we've won some close games," coach Avery Johnson grudgingly conceded. "We could have had 10 games during the season that could have gone another way.
"Somebody else could be leading the Western Conference, and we could have been in second, third or fourth."
We can continue the Dirk vs Nash debate …
here they are, ready to take the court tonight at American Airlines Center with barely a month left in the season. And just about everybody in the league agrees that the only way Nash won't win his third consecutive MVP honor is because Nowitzki will win his first. Did anybody see this coming way back when?
"Obviously not," Nowitzki said. "When we first started off, we were struggling, and nobody really knew if we were going to make it in this league. It's been a great ride, obviously. We both went our ways and kind of improved together, worked on our games together and nobody could really see how far we could take this."
Nash and Nowitzki became stars with the Mavericks. But as good as they were together, they are even better apart.
Nash went to Phoenix in 2004, signing a huge free-agent contract with the Suns. He has won the last two MVP trophies and there are those who think he will complete the hat trick this year.
But the bigger story is how Nowitzki and Nash, best friends for so long, became the only serious entrants in the MVP race of 2007. They used to cut up together. They used to hang out at the gym at night, feeding each other passes for jump shots. They'd top the night off with a round or six of beers.
All that's changed, except for maybe the beers.
"It is kind of crazy how it all worked out," said Mavs owner Mark Cuban, the man who ultimately decided to split the tandem.
"Obviously, everybody saw we were kind of talented and we could make our ways in this league," Nowitzki said. "But in the beginning, it was kind of hard to see. But it's great how things developed over the years."
Neither Nowitzki nor Nash puts any stock in their personal situations. If you told either one of them they would lose the MVP but win a championship this season, they'd take that trade no questions asked.
"I think Dirk should win it," Nash told The Associated Press. "He's had a great year and the team's had the best season, so I would give [the MVP] to him."
Example #285 why you should never assume your prospects are future superstars and therefore un-trade-able: DVD never panned out here in Texas …
They were hyped as the Rangers' pitching trio of the future.
John Danks, Edinson Volquez and Thomas Diamond were going to prove that the Rangers could produce homegrown talent on the mound. They had so much upside the last few years that they even had their own moniker – DVD.
All three were in Surprise on Tuesday, but under different circumstances. Danks, the Rangers' first-round pick (ninth overall) in 2003, was on the mound in a White Sox uniform. The lefty pitched well enough against the Rangers to keep himself in the mix for the fifth spot in Chicago's rotation.
Danks was the only one still auditioning for a major league job Tuesday.
Volquez, a long shot to be the Rangers' fifth starter, was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma. Diamond, who has dealt with elbow tendinitis most of this spring and returned to the mound just a few days ago, was shipped to the minor league camp.
So "D" is pushing for a spot in the White Sox rotation, and "VD" will probably start the season at Triple-A. It wasn't what the Rangers envisioned for their once-celebrated threesome. But general manager Jon Daniels cautioned that it doesn't mean Volquez and Diamond won't contribute to the Rangers in the future.
"You always like to have guys shoot through the system and dominate, but those are few and far between," Daniels said. "There are many more success stories of guys that took a little more time. How many big league starters are making 30 starts and are 23 years old? There are some, but not many."
ARod put on the hot seat by Mike and the Mad Dog …
Alex Rodriguez tries to insist that he wants to remain in New York. But an option in his contract allows him to become a free agent after this season, and in a radio interview Tuesday, he threatened to invoke the option if the fans did not embrace him.
“It’s a do-or-die situation,” he told Mike Francesa and Chris Russo on WFAN. “Either New York is going to kick me out of New York this year. ...”
He did not finish the sentence because Russo interjected, but Rodriguez continued: “Listen, at some point, either New York is going to say, ‘I’ve had enough of this guy, get him the hell out of here’ — and we have an option — or New York is going to say, ‘Hey, we won a world championship, you had a big year, you’re a part of it, we want you back.’ ”
Asked if he could see himself finishing his career with the Yankees, Rodriguez said: “One hundred percent, that’s exactly what I want to do. But I also want to make sure from the fans and management, I’m wanted here. One hundred percent, my wife and I and my daughter, we want to stay here, we’re getting more comfortable in New York off the field, too.”
Rodriguez, who joined Francesa and Russo in a broadcast booth at Legends Field, also said he had “options to go to several teams this year, probably five or six, and I chose not to.”
“I chose to be in New York,” he said.
Do the Right Thing – Sesame Street
Gareth Stapler in the Jelly