© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
The Prince Albert Raiders announced on Wednesday that they will be retiring their first jersey in the 43-year history of the franchise when No. 9 is raised to the rafters of the Art Hauser Centre on Nov. 1 in honour on Mike Modano. The City of Prince Albert has also joined in on the festivities as the weekend of Nov. 1-2 has been proclaimed Mike Modano Weekend. Shown in the photo is Raiders business manager Bruce Vance, left, and general manager Bruno Campese, right, joining city councillor Martin Ring in the unveiling of the proclamation.
Timing is everything.
The Prince Albert Raiders have had discussions for a long time about whether the club should retire numbers of former players and with Mike Modano returning to the city in early November to be the guest speaker at the annual sportsman dinner, now appears to be the right time to start that tradition.
The Raiders announced on Wednesday that prior to their Nov. 1 game against the Regina Pats, Modano, along with members of his family, will watch his familiar No. 9 being raised to the rafters of the Art Hauser Centre.
In making the announcement, Raiders’ general manager Bruno Campese said that many former players have had distinguished careers with the team, but the level of excellence that Modano brought both to Prince Albert and then in his NHL career couldn’t be overlooked.
“We talked to a lot of other teams, at our level and other levels, and we just felt it was time to move forward in this area,” said Campese. “We want to make sure people recognize that former players like Mike Modano played in Prince Albert.”
“I wouldn’t want to say this is the reason we are doing it (retiring numbers), but it brought to light ‘what are we going to do with it,’” added Campese. “Mike is a pillar for this decision.”
Modano played for the Raiders from 1986-89 and tallied 118 goals to go along with 176 assists in just 176 games. Those numbers would have been significantly higher if he hadn’t suffered a broken wrist at the all-star game in his final year and missed the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs.
The Livonia, Mich., native was selected first overall in the 1988 NHL entry draft by the Minnesota North Stars and in 21 seasons with Minnesota, Dallas and Detroit he collected 1375 points in 1499 games. He is the career leader in goals, assists, points and games played for the Minnesota-Dallas franchise and he is the all-time leading scorer for an American-born player.
Modano won a Stanley Cup in 1999, represented the United States at three Winter Olympics and was selected to play in eight all-star games.
To make the return of Modano even more special, the City of Prince Albert has also unveiled a proclamation that designates Nov. 1-2 as Mike Modano Weekend.
“It is not just about being a Raider,” says Campese. “It also has to do with the level of excellence as a professional.”
With that said Campese noted that the criteria is set very high to achieve the level of recognition being bestowed upon Modano.
“It has been an ongoing conversation for a number of years,” says Campese. “We have a Wall of Honour, which is very prestigious. We are looking to make that more prominent – it needs to be a little more of a presence.”
“The board of directors has established very high criteria and there is the opportunity to change the criteria at another time,” added Campese. “It does open some debate as to who should be next.”
The sportsman dinner is hosted by the Kinsmen Club of Prince Albert and the Raiders with Wheatland Tire and Auto being introduced as the title sponsor for the next three years.
Modano will be the keynote speaker at the event, which honours the top male and female athletes of the year, with former voice of the Raiders Kevin Winters also returning to Prince Albert for the weekend. Winters broadcast the Raider games during Modano’s stay in Prince Albert and he will be the master of ceremonies at both the jersey ceremony and the banquet.