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' Jonathan Toews named NHL's second star of the week

Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews named NHL's second star of the week

Jonathan Toews was named the NHL's second star for the week ending Feb. 26 after recording four goals and five assists in three games, all of which resulted in Blackhawks wins.

The 28-year-old captain kicked off the week with a hat trick and five-point effort in a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild, then followed that up with two assists in a 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. 

He wrapped up the week by scoring a goal and adding an assist in a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues to extend his point streak to six games. He has five goals and eight assists during that span.

Toews now ranks third on the team with 46 points and is tied for fifth with 16 goals.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (eight goals and two assists in four games) and Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (two goals and six assists in four games) were named the first and third stars, respectively.


In midst of career season, Artem Anisimov still not satisfied with overall game

In midst of career season, Artem Anisimov still not satisfied with overall game

In terms of points this season, Artem Anisimov is closing in on some career numbers.

His goal against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night was his 22nd of the season, tying a career best set with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013-14. One more point and he'll equal his career best (44) in that department from 2010-11, when he was with the New York Rangers.

And all of this is with 20 games remaining in the regular season. So is this Anisimov's best career regular season?

"Ah, no," Anisimov said recently. "Close to it, but not good enough."

Anisimov would list a few things he still needs to improve upon – we'll get to that later – but even "close," Anisimov has had another strong season for the Blackhawks, once again centering Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane. It's easy to focus on those two wings, given their dazzling play-making ability. But every line needs at least one blue-collar guy, the one who does more of the dirty work and perhaps takes the punishment in front of the net.

For the second consecutive season, that second-line guy is Anisimov, and his net-front play, especially, has led to more production this season.

"Arty's a smart player. He knows getting there, there [are] rewards for being around the net," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He finds his positioning. Sometimes he gets there at the right time and his arrival times are due to his anticipation with his wingers. [It's] the willingness; there's some abuse you have to take over the course of a regular season and it doesn't distract Arty from getting there."

Anisimov's game-winner against the Blues came the way so many others have this season: around the net. This one was off a slick pass from Panarin. Be it scoring goals like that, limiting a goaltender's vision or cleaning up rebounds, Anisimov's net-front presence has been steady. 

"He's coming up with pucks, gets those loose pucks to Kaner and Bread Man and they do their thing and create some magic there. Or you have Arty in front and you have Kaner and Bread doing their thing back and forth across the zone and you have that big body in front," Ryan Hartman said. "It makes it difficult, and not just when one of them are shooting. Sometimes the goalie can't see the pass because Arty's there and it's really deceptive and a big part of our team."

So the production has been there, no doubt. But where does Anisimov feel he's lacking?

"I just need to improve in all aspects: skating, back check, forecheck, stick position," Anisimov said. "All the little things have to be a little bit better."

Most players are never satisfied with where their games are. They're always looking to improve. Anisimov will keep working on what he thinks are some deficiencies but his constant net-front presence has filled what used to be an issue for the Blackhawks.