Blackhawks

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 Talk Podcast: Kirby Dach on road to NHL, role with Blackhawks and rapid fire Q&A

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Kirby Dach on road to NHL, role with Blackhawks and rapid fire Q&A

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis goes 1-on-1 with Kirby Dach to discuss what the past five months have been like since being drafted No. 3 overall, his reaction after finding out he would stay with the Blackhawks past the nine-game tryout and what he's learned the most at the NHL level.

They also play a fun game of rapid-fire Q&A, which includes his favorite cheat day meal, the last concert he attended, NHL players he looked up to as a kid and more.

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

 

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Erik Gustafsson is back to looking like player he was last season for Blackhawks

Erik Gustafsson is back to looking like player he was last season for Blackhawks

Less than three weeks ago, Erik Gustafsson fell out of the rotation for the Blackhawks. The offensive production wasn’t there and the defensive part of his game was trending in the wrong direction.

Since being healthy scratched on Nov. 2 against Los Angeles, Gustafsson has looked like a different player. He’s starting to resemble the impact-type player he was last season when he became one of six NHL defensemen to finish with at least 60 points.

And it’s because he’s getting back to his roots.

“I don’t know how, from a scratch, my confidence can get up so fast but I feel like myself a little bit more now,” Gustafsson told NBC Sports Chicago. “I got a video guy that I worked with last year and working with him right now and went back and looked at those videos a couple days ago and it's just a whole other player from last year and now. I just wanted to come back to that moment. I felt like I was having fun out there and not thinking too much.

“I think my defensive part is better than last year but I just want to get back to when I have the puck and I've felt pretty good now the past four games, so let's keep it going."

Gustafsson said that after morning skate on Wednesday. He followed it up by scoring his first goal of the season later that night in a 5-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights, roofing a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to end a 16-game goal drought.

“He just looks much more confident with the puck,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “He’s cleaner. He still has a couple turnovers here and there but he’s going to turn it over every once in a while. We just want him to try to be as clean as he can and situationally manage when he’s going to try and do those things.”

It helps that Gustafsson is back to earning top minutes, which he admitted is beneficial because if he has a bad shift he doesn’t have to dwell on it too long. But Colliton is trying walk the line of giving Gustafsson enough rope to make mistakes while also holding him responsible for his play.

“It’s a balance,” Colliton said. “Because you’ve got to earn the minutes you get and if you’re not doing the job then your minutes will go down. But at the same time, I don’t believe that if you make one mistake you should get the hook. That’s a tough way to play when you’re always worried if I make one mistake, you’re going to be punished for it or whatever it may be. So as a coach, that’s the balance, the line we walk to try to get the most out of every player but also make sure there’s accountability.”

Earlier in the season, Gustafsson was consumed by trying to develop a defense-first mentality without taking away from his offensive instincts. Now he’s gotten back to focusing on the strengths of his game rather than the weaknesses, and it’s allowed him to play looser. 

"I think it was a lot of parts like moving my feet, skating,” Gustafsson said of what he noticed during video sessions of his play last season vs. this season. “It's a big part about my game, too. I have to skate a lot. Last year when I got a guy on me I just faked going one side and went to the other side and just skated and tried to find that open lane to pass it. And I think at the start of this season I just wanted to get rid of the puck right away. I don't know if it's just confidence or something, but I think I’m moving my feet much better now than I did my first 10 games."

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