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Why Dallas Loves Mike Modano and Why He Loves Us

Unsurprisingly, it was the Dallas Stars’ long-time TV play-by-play man, the ever-eloquent Ralph Strangis, who summed up the finest night of Mike Modano’s long and celebrated hockey career.

“For all these people in the building today, we love you,” he said, sweeping his arms to encompass the sellout crowd of 19,000-plus gathered Saturday at the American Airlines Center. “Everybody here loves you.”

Roughly an hour later, Modano, the finest player in franchise history and almost assuredly a permanent installment on our city’s mythical Mount Rushmore of sports, watched his famed No. 9 jersey hoisted to the arena rafters, now retired in thanks for more than two decades of on- and off-ice excellence. It’s the highest honor the franchise can bestow, and he joins Bill Masterson (19), Bill Goldsworthy (8), and Neal Broten (7) as the only players in team history to receive it.

The gravity of the moment wasn’t lost on him; if anything, it overwhelmed him. When Modano, the most prolific American-born player in NHL history, finally stepped to the podium to speak after two hours of festivities, the resulting roar immediately swallowed him. It took a full minute and a half before the crowd stopped cheering, and even then, he could only manage a “Thank you” before the cascade started again.

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