The one image of Mike Modano that former teammate Marty Turco will always remember came in Buffalo when Modano finally raised the Stanley Cup. The American superstar closed his eyes and lifted the silver trophy into the air, a mix of celebration, relief and ecstasy.
"You could tell the flashbacks are going through his brain, everything he endured," Turco said during a conversation after he finished a training session in Sault Ste. Marie. "The sacrifices he made to help a franchise grow, to build a fanbase, to sometimes knowing what you're doing, to sometimes not knowing how big you really are and how meaningful you are. The weight of the world kind of lifted off his shoulders when he lifted that Cup up."
For the last few years Modano has been trying to find that perfect ending to his career, maybe one where he repeats that moment. But with his press conference today in Dallas it ends the next best way: As a member of the Stars. He leaves behind a legacy, not only in Dallas, but throughout the United States. There wasn't a better American forward to ever play the game.
"Every opportunity he had to represent his country, he did," said Chris Chelios, who always sat next to Modano on the Team USA bus during their silver-medal run in Salt Lake City.
Modano's are huge skates to fill, but Chelios has worked with the next generation of American forwards and loves the mix of talent and confidence coming through the system. There may not be one with Modano's exact skill set, but these five could one day challenge his throne as the best American forward:
To read Craig's list of the players most likely to become the next Mike Modano, sign up for ESPN Insider.