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Modano Continues To Impress

Thursday, 11.29.2007 / 2:13 PM / Features
By Joe Sager  - pittsburghpenguins.com
It wasn’t that long ago the highest-scoring American NHL player skated at Mellon Arena.

Joe Mullen wrapped up his distinguished career in Pittsburgh in 1997 with 1,063 points.

Friday, the man who has surpassed Mullen – and Phil Housley – for the American scoring record will take the ice as Mike Modano and the Dallas Stars visit Pittsburgh for the first time since 2004.

Mullen eclipsed Reed Larson’s 685 points for the U.S. record on Jan. 13, 1990. He held it for more than nine years when Housley passed it on March 13, 1999. Housley’s 1,232 points were the standard until Modano took over on Nov. 7. The Dallas Stars center scored his 1,233rd point in 1,253 regular-season games – 242 contests fewer than Housley played. Entering Friday’s game in Pittsburgh, Modano has 1,243 points (515+728) in 1,263 games.

“Seeing an American-born player put up that many points is awesome,” said Penguins forward and Pittsburgh native Ryan Malone. “He came into the league and had some great seasons and continues to have great seasons. You look at him, with the new rules changes, the way he skates is great.

“He’s definitely someone that a lot of American kids look up to,” he continued. “The way he plays the game and the way he handles himself makes him a true superstar.”

Like Malone indicated, Modano is a role model for a new generation of American-born players like Mullen and Housley were before.

“Mike Modano is now going to set new standards for American kids growing up and that’s what it’s about – someone comes and sets new standards all the time,” Mullen said.

“If anyone deserves the record, it’s Mike Modano,” Housley said. “I was fortunate to have the record for eight years, to take it with me in my retirement and I was very honored to be recognized as the leading scorer.”

Another player especially happy to see Modano break the record was Penguins defenseman Darryl Sydor, who came to Pittsburgh from Dallas as a free agent this summer. Sydor played nine seasons with Modano and the Stars and won a Stanley Cup championship.

“Mike is a good friend of mine. I have been there to see a few of his accomplishments,” Sydor said. “Obviously, I wasn’t there when he broke the record, but when I saw he did it, I threw him a text message. It’s good to see. It’s well-deserved. It’s just a tribute to his many years of consistency.”

In addition to the points record, Modano became just the second American to score 500 goals. Mullen was the first and he finished with 502 tallies. Modano scored No. 503 last Mar. 17. Fellow American Jeremy Roenick has since joined the 500-goal club as well.

“Lucky enough for me, I got to know Joe Mullen pretty well, so that was a great experience when he scored 500 goals,” Malone said. “I don’t know how many years I’d have to play to score that many goals. It’s ridiculous. Those guys and what they have accomplished are great feats. There are not too many players to do that.”

While the six-time NHL All-Star has many professional accomplishments, he has shined on the international level for Team USA. He helped the squad to a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics and was part of the American squad that captured the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

“He has been there for all Team USA’s top honors, pretty much. He’s been a big part of USA Hockey,” Malone said. “What more can you ask for in a career? Not too many guys like him come along very often.”

Modano’s impact isn’t just limited to the ice, either. He has spurned huge growth in youth hockey in the Dallas area.

“I guess it’s pretty similar to what happened when Mario came here. It helped sell the game,” Malone said. “In Dallas, before, they didn’t have a lot of hockey and didn’t know much about it, but with the success they had and the player he is, it’s making the game grow and that’s great to see.”

Sydor looks forward to battling against one his closest friends.

“It’s going to be good to see old friends. It’s always special when you play your old team,” he said. “You want to perform. Hopefully, things go well for us.”

Top 10 U.S.-born NHL scorers
(Through Nov. 28)

 Player                          Pos.     GP       G         A         PTS     Birthplace

1. *Mike Modano       C         1263    515      728      1243    Livonia, MI

2. Phil Housley            D         1495    338      894      1232    St. Paul, MN

3. *Jeremy Roenick     C         1273    501      682      1183    Boston, MA

4. Joe Mullen               RW      1062    502      561      1063    New York, NY

5. Brian Leetch            D        1205    247      781      1028    Corpus Christi, TX

6. Pat LaFontaine        C         865      468      545      1013    St. Louis, MO

7. *Doug Weight        C         1086    255      695      950      Warren, MI

8. *Keith Tkachuk      LW      998      479      466      945      Melrose, MA

9. *Chris Chelios         D         1570    183      756      939      Chicago, IL

10. Neal Broten           C         1099    289      634      923      Roseau, MN

*Active

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