American Icon: Modano inspired current Hawks

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American Icon: Modano inspired current Hawks

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011
Posted: 7:04 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com Blackhawks InsiderFollow @TraMyersCSN
As the Chicago Blackhawks learned of Mike Modanos retirement, the same thought and the same image kept going through their minds.

Ill always remember when he skated his jersey would flap in the wind. You were watching him carry the puck and trying to catch him with his jersey flying in the wind, Andrew Brunette said.

Jamal Mayers had the same memory: It seemed like he had an extra piece of his jersey because it was always waving behind him. He was so fast, said Mayers.

A lot of players probably had that viewpoint of Modano: throughout his 20-plus year career, the center usually had a few steps on his opponents. He retired just one game short of 1,500 for his career. His 561 goals and 813 assists are records for a U.S.-born player and put him among the NHLs best.

Obviously hes the best American player of all time, said Patrick Kane, who first met Modano before he began his own career. My greatest memories of him are flying up and down the ice and scoring a lot of power-forward goals. He seemed to overpower defenses with his shot.

Modano spent 19 seasons with the Minnesota North StarsDallas Stars the Blackhawks were one squad that tried to land him right out of the lockout, but his heart and game remained in Dallas. And hell retire a Star after signing a one-day contract with them prior to his retirement announcement on Thursday. A great ambassador of the game, Modano inspired a legion of players, especially in America.

Even as injuries mounted a wrist injury and surgery stole most of his final NHL season in Detroit Modanos trademark speed never seemed to slow. And whether he was in his 20s or 40s, opponents respected his abilities.

Even at this stage of his career he was still a fun and exciting player to watch, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. As a young guy, hes one of those guys youre proud to say you played against.

Modanos place in NHL lore is secure: heres no doubt hes a Hall of Famer. For those of us who had the pleasure of covering him, his retirement is our loss. But every time a young American player laces up the skates, his legacy and impact remain.

Hes a guy Ive looked up to ever since I came to the league, Kane said. Hell always be someone I look up to.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks re-sign defenseman Ville Pokka to one-year deal

Blackhawks re-sign defenseman Ville Pokka to one-year deal

The Blackhawks signed Ville Pokka to a one-year contract on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old Pokka played in all 76 regular-season games for the Rockford IceHogs last season, recording six goals and 24 assists.

The Blackhawks’ defensive depth has already taken a hit this offseason, with Niklas Hjalmarsson traded to Arizona – Connor Murphy came here in the deal – and Trevor van Riemsdyk, selected by the Vegas Golden Knights, then traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. While the Blackhawks will probably explore free-agent options this offseason, Pokka could vie for an opportunity at training camp.

Blackhawks don’t extend qualifying offer to Dennis Rasmussen

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks don’t extend qualifying offer to Dennis Rasmussen

Dennis Rasmussen was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Blackhawks, a source confirmed on Tuesday. Rasmussen will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Rasmussen was coming off a one-year deal worth $575,000. He was expected to be among those the Blackhawks extended qualifying offers – the deadline was Monday afternoon – but he was not.

The 26-year-old played 68 games for the Blackhawks this past season, recording four goals and four assists. He gave the Blackhawks some options, as he also played some wing and was part of the penalty kill. But he was a surprise healthy scratch more often than not as the regular season continued.

The Blackhawks will enter this season without Rasmussen and, if Marcus Kruger is traded, the team will have some holes to fill at center.