DALLAS — Mike Modano made his mark long before he and the Minnesota North Stars relocated to Dallas and brought hockey to the Sun Belt.
Once he got there in 1993, he didn’t miss a beat.
Modano, the highest-scoring U.S.-born player in NHL history, joined longtime New Jersey Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello, and player-turned-broadcaster Ed Olczyk, as the newest inductees to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night.
Modano lived up to his billing after being chosen with the first pick of the 1988 NHL draft.
By the time he retired in 2011, the Livonia, Mich., native was the Stars’ leader in games played (1,459), goals (557), assists (802) and points (1,359). He also holds franchise records with 145 playoff points in a club-high 174 games.
Modano, who played his final NHL season with the Detroit Red Wings, leads U.S.-born players in goals (561) and points (1,374).
Olczyk was taken with the No. 3 pick in the 1984 draft by his hometown Chicago Blackhawks and went on to play 16 years in the NHL after starting his career as an 18-year old rookie.
Olczyk finished with 342 goals and 794 points in 1,031 games with Chicago, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Winnipeg Jets, the New York Rangers, the Los Angeles Kings and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He returned to the Blackhawks for his last two years in the NHL and retired in 2000. Olczyk is now NBC’s lead hockey game analyst.
Lamoriello is entering the U.S. Hall of Fame as a builder, three years after his induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
“The Americans are here, if that’s the way to say it, and here to stay in every way,” Lamoriello said.
Lamoriello’s distinguished career started long before he joined the Devils and built them into perennial winners. With New Jersey, Lamoriello has earned three Stanley Cup championships in 24 seasons, and two other Eastern Conference titles — including last season.
Along with Modano, Lamoriello was also part of the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. Lamoriello served as the general manager of the American squad that beat Canada for the title.
“We wanted to change what they thought of us as players, that we didn’t belong at their level,” Modano said. “It took a long time, but we always felt in the back of our minds that we could prove a lot of countries wrong, that we could play with them.”
Since then, the United States has remained among the hockey elite. The Americans earned the silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and the 2010 Games in Vancouver.