The Hockey Hall of Fame announced its 2014 class this week. Mike Modano was among the half-dozen honorees who will be inducted at the Toronto ceremonies in mid-November.
Any mention of Modano can cause the bile to build toward Norm Green, the evil gent who announced the move of the North Stars to Dallas on March 10, 1993, with 16 games (including seven at home) remaining in a lost season.
Modano was 22 at the time. He was in his fourth season and already had 123 goals and 309 points when the moving vans headed to Dallas. He also was part of the improbable spring of 1991, when the North Stars squeezed into the playoffs with the 15th-most points in a 21-team league, and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
We loved Norm then, and we hated him later, but this can be said in retrospect:
The greatest thing to happen to Minnesota’s sports scene in the past two-plus decades was Norm moving his hockey team to Dallas.
The politicians had no real appetite for building arenas and stadiums for our teams in March 1993. We had gotten away with contributing chump change to build Met Stadium, Met Center, the Civic Center, the Metrodome and Target Center.
Then Norm left. Two years later, Minneapolis took over Target Center to facilitate the retention of the Timberwolves.
In 1998, the state came up with a no-interest loan of $65 million (of which a large share was forgiven) to build an arena in St. Paul as the needed home to get the NHL expansion Wild.
In 2006, the Legislature made a large state contribution to an on-campus home (TCF Bank Stadium) for the football Gophers and signed off on Hennepin County’s involvement in building the Twins’ spectacular Target Field.
Now, we’re giving a billion-dollar dome to the Vikings, fulfilling Mike Veeck’s dream for an artsy ballyard in St. Paul, giving a face-lift to Target Center, and whispering about a soccer-specific stadium near Target Field for an MLS franchise.
Thanks, Norm. We might not have done any of this if you hadn’t stolen away to Dallas with Modano.