Despite the ongoing NHL lockout and a general disinterest in hockey from fans around the country, the United States Hockey Hall of Fame will honor six members of the hockey family in a Dallas ceremony Monday.
Stars legend Mike Modano, commonly heralded as perhaps the best American to ever play the game headlines the group, which also includes NBC commentator and former NHL player Ed Olczyk and New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello.
The Lester Patrick Trophy, awarded annually to honor one's contributions to the game in the United States, will be awarded to both Bob Chase-Wallenstein and Dick Patrick at the ceremony. Chase, the 86-year-old broadcaster for the ECHL's Fort Wayne Komets, has been broadcasting Komets games since 1953. Patrick, the third member of his family to win the trophy named for his grandfather, is credited with the growth of the game in and around Washington D.C. through his work with the Capitals' organization.
Former Hockey Canada president Murray Costello will receive the Wayne Gretzky Award from USA Hockey at Monday's ceremony. The award, presented annually since 1999, is given to a member of the international hockey community who has made strides toward growing the game on American soil.
Lamoriello, a 2009 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee surprisingly is not in the U.S. Hockey Hall already, is one of the most influential and successful executives hockey has seen. The 69-year-old Providence, R.I. native played hockey for the Providence Friars as a college student before eventually becoming the head coach and later athletic director. During his time at the helm, the Providence hockey team reached their second Frozen Four and the men's basketball team reached their only Final Four.
Lamoriello was also a key member in the formation of the Hockey East conference, of which he served as its first commissioner. The conference trophy is now known as the Lamoriello Trophy. Since joining the Devils in 1987, Lamoriello's success has reached the stratosphere. He pulled the Devils out of their "Mickey Mouse" beginnings and turned them into a perennial contender, leading the club to three Stanley Cups and five conference championships.
The Chicago-born Olczyk, the third-overall pick by the Blackhawks in 1984, went on to play over 1,000 NHL games for six different clubs, compiling nearly 800 points in those games. He won the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994 and served as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2003-05. He's reached a new level of stardom as a broadcaster, first with the Penguins before the coaching stint and then with his hometown Blackhawks. He still serves as color commentator on Chicago broadcasts while also juggling national duties on NBC telecasts alongside Doc Emrick.
Modano, the first-overall pick in the 1988 draft, is the most prolific American scorer in NHL history with 1,374 points in his 1,499 games. He won the Stanley Cup in 1999 with the Stars, a silver medal at the 2001 Salt Lake City Olympics and was honored at eight NHL All-Star Games. Modano played all but 40 games of his NHL career with the Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars franchise. After wrapping up his career with a final 2010-11 season with the Detroit Red Wings, the Michigan native signed a one-day contract with the Stars and retired from hockey in September 2011.