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Mike Modano’s Hall Of Fame Case

I am completing my Hall of Fame cases for the 2014 player inductees.  I have already written the cases for Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg and Dominik Hasek.  Today I am doing Mike Modano. 

Here was the post I wrote in 2006 when I first considered Modano to be a Hall of Famer and here was the post I wrote when he retired.

In order to make Hall of Fame cases I use the Keltner List.  This list is borrowed from baseball, but easily adapts to hockey and gets to the heart of what make a player a Hall of Famer.

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

No.  I don't think any serious hockey person ever considered Modano to be the best player in hockey.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

Modano was the best player on his team through much of his time with the Minnesota North Stars/ Dallas Stars.  During their Stanley Cup run, the Stars added Brett Hull and Ed Belfour and some people will argue that either of them may have been better than Modano at that time, though this is debateable.  It is clear that Modano is the best player in Stars history given his skill and longevity with the team.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

I don't think anyone would argue that Modano was the best centreman in hockey at any point.  Centre is usually the forward position that attracts the most talent, so it is quite common for a Hall of Fame centreman to never have been the best in that position.  Modano did make Second Team All Star in 2000.  This would be his best claimn to being a top center.  Given that in baseball there are two leagues, one might be able to argue that there was a point where Modano was the best centre in the equivalent of his baseball league but this argument is a stretch.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

Modano was a significant contributor in the 1999 Dallas Stanley Cup win.  He scored at point per game rate in the playoffs.  He was also a key player on his team in his 1991 and 2000 unsuccessful trips to the finals.  Modano had two other trips to the semi-finals.  In all cases he was one of the key players on his team.  Yes, Modano made a significant impact in several playoff runs.

5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

Modano played his final NHL games at age 40.  To be fair he didn't make much of an impact in his final season in Detroit - it was more of an end of a career homecoming.  He made more of an impact in his final years in Dallas, where he left at age 39.  This is well beyond the prime of most NHL players.

6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

I would argue that Modano is the best Hall of Fame eligible player who is not also in the 2014 Hall of Fame class and played primarily in the NHL (meaning Sergei Makarov is excluded).  That is effectively a yes answer.

7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?

Modano scored 561 career goals and 1374 career points.  Players with those kinds of career numbers make the Hockey Hall of Fame.

8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

His numbers clearly meet Hall of Fame standards. 

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

Modano was a solid defensive forward in his prime years, but i would argue that his career numbers do a good job of conveying his value as a hockey player.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?

Yes.  Modano is the best Hall of Fame eligible centreman who is not in the Hall.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

Modano never had an MVP- calibre season.  He was good enough to wind up down-ballot on a few Hart Trophy ballots in a few seasons, but he never came close to winning an MVP.

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?

Modano appeared in eight NHL All Star Games.  Probably his last couple selections were not well-deserved and he was picked more for nostalgia.  There are five or six other seasons where he had All Star calibre numbers, so he could have had a double digit number of all star appearances.  It has been decades since a player appeared in eight All Star Games and did not make the Hall of Fame when they gained eligibility.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

Modano may have been the best player on the Stanley Cup winning 1999 Dallas Stars.  This was a deep team and I think people would argue that either of Brett Hull or Ed Belfour might have been a better player, although this is not entirely clear.  This shows that a team where Modano was either its best player or close enough to being their best player that it would lead to significant arguments certainly could win the Stanley Cup.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

Modano's biggest impact in hockey history was popularizing the game in Texas.  It was not a given that hockey would succeed that far from its traditional grounds.  Modano was the key player in the successful move of a franchise to Dallas.  He is the highest scoring American born player in NHL history.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Mike Modano is largely seen as a character player.  He did have some growing pains early in his career where he didn't always get along with his coach.  It is worth noting that Modano was not the Dallas Star captain during their Stanley Cup run (Derian Hatcher was).  He took over as captain in 2004.  I would argue that the answer to this question is a yes, but it is not an overwhelming yes.

Mike Modano had a long successful career with the Minnesota North Stars/ Dallas Stars.  He is the face of the Dallas Stars franchise.  He has Hall of Fame calibre numbers.  He was never seriously considered in the argument to be the best player in the NHL and that keeps him from being one of the most elite Hall of Famers, but his career definitely is deserving of induction.

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[sarcasm] Why do you post blogs!  We don’t like blogs!  [/endsarcasm]

Posted by neffernin on 07/08/14 at 06:36 PM ET

bigdee89's avatar

Challenge:  Try to find someone who was inducted that does not suit the criteria.  It would be interesting to read.

Posted by bigdee89 from The Great White North Eh? on 07/08/14 at 06:44 PM ET

blammo's avatar

My favourite Mike Modano play involves Mark Messier.

Posted by blammo from Vancouver, BC on 07/08/14 at 06:53 PM ET


He’s still not as good as Mike Trout.

Posted by brians neck on 07/08/14 at 07:13 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I guess I screwed up with the links, so i will try again without embedding them
Dick Duff http://puckstopshere.blogspot.ca/2006/06/why-dick-duff-is-poor-hall-of-fame.html
Glenn http://puckstopshere.blogspot.ca/2008/06/glenn-anderson-is-poor-hall-of-fame.html

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 07/08/14 at 07:24 PM ET

bigdee89's avatar

TPSH:  very interesting articles thank-you.

I guess HOF for hockey can be easier to get into than other sports

Posted by bigdee89 from The Great White North Eh? on 07/08/14 at 08:50 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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